Kevan Spiers - Senior Highways Engineer - Jacobs

Issued: Tue, 18 Aug 2020 00:00:00 BST

Tell us a fun fact about yourself

I have married the same girl three times… We had our wedding ceremony in Goa, India in November last year, then we hosted our wedding reception in February in Glasgow, Scotland, before finally signing our marriage certificate at a small ceremony in March, this was the last time we left the house before lockdown. We still haven’t decided which date will be our anniversary…

Tell us about your career journey so far

During my studies I was fortunate enough to gain experience through three summer placements; two in Highways, and one monitoring the activities of the Operating Companies who maintain the Trunk Road network. These were great opportunities to make connections in the industry and also confirmed that I had made a good choice to study engineering, as I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Since graduating I have had the opportunity to work on some high-profile projects within Scotland, as well as some in England and even in Romania. These have included the M8, M73 & M74 Motorway Improvements, the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, the Dualling of the A9, and also18 months on site for the construction of the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (one of the largest projects of its kind not just in the UK but anywhere in Europe while construction was underway). I’m now delighted to be working on the design for the A82 Tarbet to Inverarnan, a road I’ve driven many times myself!

Outside of Scottish roads, in 2016 I had the opportunity to join colleagues volunteering to assist in the construction of a 97m footbridge in rural Rwanda, Africa, in partnership with the charity ‘Bridges to Prosperity’. This has, without question, been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

What was your favourite subject in school and why?

When I was in school, music was my favourite subject (like many teenagers, my main goals in life revolved around becoming a Rockstar!) Music has always been important to me and is still a large part of my social life. The performance and composition aspects provided an avenue for my more creative side which is also really important in my role today.

I also enjoyed physics as it helped me to better understand the practical application of what we learned in maths.

What subjects/qualifications are useful for your role?

A good understanding of maths and physics complemented with strong communication skills are key fundamentals of my role. These would be desired for anyone intending to study Civil Engineering at university.

We also work with various software platforms, so strong computing competency is also beneficial. 

What is a normal day in your role like?

A typical day would be a combination of 3D modelling using road alignment software, assessing the design or seeking to identify areas for improvement and a series of informal meetings with my team to monitor progress, or share and develop ideas. In my current role I also prepare a lot of word documents, presentations and work a lot with Microsoft Excel.

What is your favourite thing about your job?

My favourite thing about working in highways specifically, is how many other disciplines we engage with. The decisions we make must strike a balance between costs (introducing large structures or complex earthworks for example), safety and the environmental impact of the works.

I also love that when the construction of a project is finally complete you can see the roads and features that, until now, have only existed on paper drawings or computer models built in real life. If projects are local, then you can also drive them and notice the impact of the work.

Can you suggest an activity that could be done at home that illustrates an aspect of your work? 

Institution of Civil Engineers - Road ruiners

This isn’t an activity but it explains the concept of road pavement design in simple terms (cake)

ICE Pitch 200 – Rocky Road:


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