The RESPECT Scheme at Birmingham

Published: Posted on

By Will, Civil Engineering
College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, University of Birmingham


Something that drew me to apply for Birmingham was the RESPECT scheme – a scheme that the university runs for students to get placements with companies for either a year placement or a summer. You send in one application form and it goes to all 15-odd companies that participate in the scheme, which is far easier than applying to them all individually!

I applied in 2020 and was lucky enough to secure interviews with Osborne (a contractor) and Amey (a consultant). After about six weeks, I heard back from Amey and they’d decided to offer me a 10-week summer placement in Transport Planning.

I worked virtually using a company laptop and supported colleagues in evaluating options for upgrading a busy road junction near Birmingham. I compiled our findings into a business case document to send to the government to bid for funding for the options we thought would work best. I also worked on an important scheme linked to a new tram extension through Dudley near Birmingham, which developed lots of infrastructure to make sure people could actually get to the new tram stops, particularly by walking and cycling and public transport. This included going out to the sites of the new stops, investigating what walking and cycling infrastructure already existed, whether it needed upgrading, and what new infrastructure we could introduce to let people access the new extension as sustainably as possible.

Because my placement was 10 weeks, and because I have been invited to Amey in summer 2022 to do another placement with them, I’ve been able to transfer to the ‘Civil Engineering with Industrial Experience’ degree. This has allowed me to complete a reflective report on my placement instead of doing two other modules which would have been more time-intensive. Transferring to the ‘Industrial Experience’ programme has allowed me to effectively link my academic work to the placement by writing the reflective report, and have my experience acknowledged in my degree title.

Given that I was working in the very early stages of engineering projects, the placement enhanced my understanding of how engineering projects are drawn up in their conceptual stages. I learnt about how options to solve engineering problems are drawn up, and evidence collected to support them when bidding for funding. This bolstered my interest in the early large-scale problem-solving stages of engineering projects, where there is a big overall problem that needs engineers to find a solution for.

I am really grateful that I took full advantage of the RESPECT scheme – I might not have had such an effortless opportunity to secure a placement with a leading company without it. I might even be offered a graduate job with Amey if they are pleased with my performance across the two placements. It’s a fantastic career-launching asset for civil engineers at Birmingham that I would implore you to make the most of!