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Sam is a structural engineer working for Halcrow. He is based in their Cardiff office and focuses on the structural aspects involved with highway design, design of new bridges, retaining walls, culverts, and assessment of existing structures.

What did you enjoy about mathematics at school?

For me, I most enjoyed the problem solving. The satisfying aspect of mathematics was applying trigonometry, calculating areas and volumes to solve real problems. Algebra, however, was like a foreign language, that is until I could find a use for it.

What is your background in mathematics?

At college I completed a BTEC National Diploma in Engineering. The course was maths orientated and a good understanding of the basic principles of maths was needed. It showed me how maths could be applied to real-world situations. At University I completed a Masters Degree in Civil Engineering. The course integrated maths with a variety of problems associated with structural, geotechnical and management aspects of the construction industry, thereby combining my enthusiasm for problem solving with an exciting and varied career.

What can you tell me about your job history?

After graduating from Cardiff University, I joined Halcrow. I am based in their Cardiff office and I predominantly focus on the structural aspects involved with highway design, design of new bridges, retaining walls, culverts and assessment of existing structures.

What are examples of typical tasks in your role?

Typically, I carry out the designs works associated with highway structures. One example is a three span continuous bridge. The bridge is a prestressed composite bridge that spans 36m over a swale. I undertook the detailed design using a grillage analysis. In addition, I detailed the deck, integral abutments and the diaphragm. Maths has an important place in structural engineering, which is a varied and satisfying career.

Has your perception of Maths changed from the education atmosphere to the world of work?

Not really, I have always considered maths to be important in all aspects of life. I knew after leaving school that I wanted a career that would require a good understanding of maths.

What skills do you use in your job?

I have to use a range of skills in my job. To design structures, maths is the cornerstone to my everyday work. Using computers to analyse structures and communicating to clients and fellow engineers are also part of my everyday job.

What hobbies do you have outside of work?

I am very a sports orientated person. I play football for a local club, Pentwynmawr AFC. I also enjoy walking the dog and, whenever possible, I actively take part in fund raising events for St David’s Hospice who provide support to patients and their families facing a life-threatening illness.