Becky Ford is an enthusiastic engineering geek with a passion for sustainable design and construction. With knowledge from both an architectural and engineering background she enjoys the challenge of collaboratively working towards creative, environmental design solutions. She also feels a wider responsibility to support STEM education in schools and help support and promote females within the industry. She has recently been awarded an ICE QUEST Technician scholarship.
My Life Story
This seems rather dramatic, but I needed to start somewhere. I was born in Handsworth, Birmingham in January 1989. I grew up in Birmingham until I was seven, when we moved down to Oxfordshire where I spent the rest of my child and adolescent life.
By the time I started secondary school I had clear enjoyments in life. Academically, maths, science, art and design technology were all favorites of mine (fancy that… I’m an engineer!), alongside interests in the outdoors, including sailing and hiking, and hockey, which is still my favourite sport of choice. The school I picked was purely down to the technology department; it was architecturally like no other building I’d ever seen and was seriously well equipped. Creative freedom here led me to become the national U14 Young Engineer of Great Britain.
Sixth form introduced me to Gaudi. A trip to Barcelona left me in awe of how much the architectural design of space can affect emotions, and the social design of space. My physics teacher also provided me with inspiration as he used to work at CERN! How about that for nerd appeal!
Throughout my childhood my mum provided much education and inspiration. At 12 she had already taught me to use a jigsaw, planer, router and other tools. She trained as a multi-skilled builder when I was a teenager and our joint interest in sustainable building resulted in weekend training courses in cob and straw bale building techniques.
It should also be noted that I joined a Woodcraft Folk youth group as a teenager. The Woodcraft Folk promotes youth empowerment and sessions would focus on current social issues, sustainability and cooperation. As a young adult I helped coordinate a national camp, a climate change action day in Nottingham and took part in the business elements of the organisation. Today I now co-run a Woodcraft group for 4-8 year olds in a neighbouring village.
Once I had finished schooling I completed a gap year of curiosities. I improved my Spanish greatly teaching in Venezuela for three months. Continuing on the prior sustainability theme I worked for a solar power installation company and completed the eco-village training at Findhorn Community in Scotland. Lastly, I explored the outdoors further, becoming a kayak and canoe instructor for PGL.
My first degree was in Architecture. With A Levels in Maths, Physics and Art and a great interest in sustainability it certainly made sense to pursue this. Although I completed my degree satisfactorally with a 2.1 I was educationally left unenthusiastic and unsure where to turn.
Teach First provided me with an alternative where I could progress personally and professionally. I joined the graduate leadership development program and taught teenagers maths in Leeds for nearly 3 years. Learning to teach and support young people is one heck of a rollercoaster ride but I learnt to really appreciate young talent. I may no longer teach, but am a STEM ambassador and, once more established as an engineer, I hope to mentor or even support engineering apprenticeship programs in the future.
Hindsight is useful at understanding previous uncertainties. Looking back over my years teaching, running after school STEM clubs and of my years as an Architecture student I realised that engineering was the right culmination of my skillset. The maths and physics satisfied my inner nerd and focussing on structural engineering meant my artistic and architectural appretiation in structure would be an unusual asset. My future ambition is to take advantage of this dual educational background as I believe sustainable building design can only achieved through successful, collaborative working within the design team.
This leads you to me today. I work as a structural engineer and have interests in sustainability, youth work, STEM education and am an active member of my local community. I am currently in my second year of a part time HND in civil engineering but am already completing structural design and calculations in the following areas:
Residential: loft conversions, internal structural alterations, two storey extensions
Medical: hospital renovations and extensions
Architectural: Balustrades, Juliette balconies
Industrial: Roof top frame systems, trolleys, pre-stressing blocks, staircases
Waterways: sluice gate, stop logs, temporary dams