Mimi stood in front of Portsmouth Guildhall

Mimi’s BEng Civil Engineering degree equipped her for life beyond university, where she won a Rising Star Award from ICE


I have a very strong interest in civilisation and how the world was built up. And how as engineers we can impact the future.

When I applied for university, I didn't have an A level in Physics or Maths. Portsmouth took a chance on me, and I got a place on the BEng Civil Engineering course. That encouraged me - I thought that if they had faith in me, I must have faith in myself to do well.

I chose to study at Portsmouth because it had a dedicated School of Civil Engineering and Surveying, so I knew I'd get the attention I needed. The lecturers are part of the industry and we had our own dedicated labs, which was much better for my learning. But it was the opportunity to do a placement year in industry that really interested me.

I spent 16 months at Multiplex Construction in central London. While there, I worked on a project to construct Amazon's headquarters above Liverpool Street Station.

I worked on the public plaza section, and part of my responsibilities were to ensure that the construction work didn't affect the train lines below. The station had to remain open, so I liaised with materials engineers and managers to make sure that we coordinated all our efforts.

I felt that I understood my degree more when I came back from my placement. I'm a very visual person, so seeing it in person ingrained it in my mind. And since some of my course work was on activities that I'd completed on site, I was able to fully understand what I needed to succeed in my degree.

Mimi speaking

Transport, building design, rail design, water engineering – most people don’t think about half of these things. So, without us civil engineers, it’s impossible. We’re like undercover superheroes!’

Mimi Nwosu, Alumna, Civil Engineering - winner of the Rising Star Award at the Institute of Civil Engineers London Civil Engineering Awards 2020

The expertise I've gained throughout my course and on placement led to my final year project. I investigated how elevated temperatures affect the mechanical properties of reinforced concrete. This was 100% helpful in getting my graduate job at Sir Robert McAlpine.

When I went for my interview, the first thing they asked me was about my dissertation. And everything that they wanted me to do, and the job requirements, were around my dissertation topic. When I spoke to my director, he was shocked at how much I already knew. I explained that this was because of my course and my placement. The University equipped me well for life outside university.

I was actually offered five jobs before I left. The Careers and Employability Service and the faculty placements team helped a lot. They reviewed my CV many times, and even did mock interviews with me to help my job applications.

I'll be starting my Master's in Advanced Materials for Sustainable Infrastructure in September, sponsored by my employer. I'm also working towards Chartered Engineer status with the Institute of Civil Engineers.

It's down to the University that I am where I am today. I feel very indebted to Portsmouth.

Since this article was written, Mimi has gone on to be shortlisted as Engineering Graduate of the Year at the Engineering Talent Awards, and has won the Rising Star Award at the Institute of Civil Engineers London Civil Engineering Awards 2020!