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WSP Principal Engineer Louisa delivers urban drainage projects

WSP Principal Engineer Louisa delivers urban drainage projects

 November 04, 2021

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WSP Principal Engineer, Louisa Sinclair, leads a team delivering urban drainage projects for her main client, Northern Ireland Water. As a project manager she supports her colleagues on high-standard projects for her clients.

"I was previously an Engineer working on similar projects and I was driven to become “chartered” and to seek out different opportunities. I am passionate about water infrastructure and collaboration across the water disciplines. I bring a different perspective having been the client for a decade in my previous roles in New Zealand. I enjoy looking at the bigger picture and whole water cycles and highlighting the similarities of wastewater and clean water projects. I love the concept of one source of truth for data," explains Louisa.

The only girl in electronics club at school

WSP water engineer jobs

Louisa always wanted to be an Engineer - she just didn’t know what type. During primary school, Louisa thought she wanted to be a Mechanical engineer as she was fascinated with how cars worked. Then during secondary school, her engineering interest moved on to electrical engineering. 

"I was the only girl in electronics club at school and loved making up circuits. At school I enjoyed maths, physics, and particularly technology and design. I was very lucky to attend an ‘Engineering for Girls’ experience day at Queen's University (where I ended up doing my Master’s), Ulster University, Road Service, and Northern Ireland Water - and spending a day surveying our school grounds. That was the turning point. I knew then I wanted to be a civil engineer.  After some career advice and research, I knew I wanted to do a Masters in Civil Engineering at Queen’s University in Belfast and when my subjects and anticipated grades aligned, my engineering career path was set." 

Louisa's passion for water engineering was sparked at Queen’s University. Whilst there, Louisa spent three-month summer placements at a small consultancy, then Northern Ireland Water - and finally at Parkman (formerly Mouchel, WSP).

Her early career focused on wastewater hydraulic modelling.  She also gained experience in clean water pipe rehabilitation program and obtained her Chartership five years after graduating and felt like the world was her oyster.

A strong passion for STEM

WSP water engineer jobs

"STEM is a passion of mine as I see so much promise in our young people. I want to share potential opportunities for future careers that might interest them. I also see the ageing workforce within the water industry and know that, without the next generation of young minds, there will be no succession plan," explains Louisa.

As a mum of two daughters, Louisa is very passionate about the inclusion of females in engineering and science professions. She has volunteered for STEM events frequently in primary and secondary schools. One experience she will never forget is receiving 30 handwritten thank you letters from a class (including pictures of pipes from their houses) after she had shown them CCTV footage of the inside of a pipe.

In New Zealand, Louisa was a FutureInTech representative. She worked with a class for a school year guiding them through the process of planning, designing, and building a water storage system for their vegetable garden. Unfortunately, due to Covid, Louisa was not able to participate in any STEM activities since returning to the UK but she is looking forward to attending events at her youngest daughter’s school.

"If you have any younger children in your life, I highly recommend the Andrea Beaty books, Ada Twist, Scientist; Iggy Peck, Architect; and, my personal favourite, Rosie Revere, Engineer! I love the line – “the only true failure comes if you quit." It is also on Netflix, but we love the books in our house," says Louisa.

An international move and a new career chapter

WSP water engineer jobs

In 2010 Louisa moved with her husband and eldest daughter to Dunedin in New Zealand. Her husband, also a civil engineer, secured a job with Opus in Dunedin and Louisa had planned to look for work once the family was settled into a house and school routine. Then, one day Louisa walked through the council buildings and saw on a notice board that they were looking for a hydraulic modeller. "I prepared thoroughly for the interview - learning everything I could about the Dunedin modelling work and water department," says Louisa who was then hired by the Dunedin City Council as their only hydraulic modeller.  

For that role, Louisa used the support of the Opus (now WSP) team based in Christchurch as they had been involved in Dunedin's 3 Waters Modelling Strategy and during this time learned clean water modelling.

"I was in a unique position in New Zealand, as I was a client who knew both wastewater and water hydraulic modelling. Due to this I was involved in the Water New Zealand Modelling Special Interest Group and was a presenter at many events across New Zealand and Australia," explains Louisa.  

WSP water engineer jobs

In 2019, Louisa made the tough decision to move back to the UK to be closer to family, so she moved between the lockdowns in 2020 amidst the global pandemic. Louisa returned to WSP's Belfast office and was pleased to see so many familiar faces. 

Now, having been back at WSP for more than a year, Louisa is very focused on expanding the local urban drainage team to further assist her clients.

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