engineering company

An engineering company’s 2022 year in review

We caught up with our engineering company owner Rob Wallbank

We had a great time catching up with Rob Wallbank, owner of RWA Consulting and Civil Engineer by trade. Check out some of our favourite answers from the head of our engineering company.

How long have you been in the civil engineering industry, and what was your inspiration for joining the industry?

When I was 14, I did work experience at an Architect’s office and loved it. I didn’t follow that profession, as it meant 7 years of study after A levels. 7 years at that point was half my life. I researched other options that involved buildings; I discovered Civil Engineering. I worked on construction sites during the summer holidays from 6th form onwards and got a good feel for Civil Engineering as it took in my love of maths and technical drawing, dealing with practical problem-solving. I have stayed faithful to those ideals and went to university to study and entered the world of work in 1981.

Can you tell us about a favourite project you have worked on?

Favourite projects! What defines a good project might be a good client or a good professional team that all pull in the same direction, and the project, therefore, goes well. A prestigious project might stand out as being one that you have fond memories of, but to get all these things on a single project would be difficult. I got a lot of pleasure and pride from the construction of a water tower many years ago, as it challenged everything I had learnt, and it was a success. But solving a small structural matter for an appreciative client can also bring me pleasure; it makes all the hard work worth it when appreciated.

What is the most difficult part about being a civil engineer?

The most difficult part must be getting the degree and becoming Chartered. Once you’ve reached this stage, life as an engineer really begins, and responsibility and promotion mean more pressure. Running a business for 30 years has been a challenge and even difficult at times, but the pleasure as I look back on these times allows me to reflect on decisions made were mostly good ones and the ones that weren’t helped me learn how to do things better next time. I have never stopped learning.

Do you think climate change will impact the civil engineering industry in the future?

Climate Change will undoubtedly have an impact on construction, simply because apart from renewable timber, steel and concrete are the primary construction materials, especially when there’s pressure to design intricate structures, which renewable simply cannot deliver solutions. Therefore, climate change will drive the need to discover new renewable materials that can reduce the dependence on steel and concrete, but that could be a long-time way.

Dry weather can have a considerable effect on clay subsoils, which are prevalent in the South of England, particularly when combined with the presence of tree roots. Subsoils are subject to significant volume changes in response to levels of moisture. Subsoils shrink when desiccated and expand when saturated.

Consulting an engineering company on barn conversions and masonry

In the UK, barn conversions are popular with buyers and developers. Structural engineering input is necessary right the way through these projects, from Planning and Building Regulations to eventual construction and maintenance. Transforming historical barns into habitable homes can be a considerable challenge. Providing awareness of potential issues from the outset, a structural survey will help to determine whether the project is financially viable.

Many of us live in older properties. They have been standing strong and weathering the storm for a century or more, but it can be beneficial to be reassured by a professional structural inspection. Some structural issues may be minor and easy to repair. Others may significantly compromise the building’s integrity, demanding specialist remedial work. For peace of mind, contact your local structural engineering company to request an investigation and assessment of masonry structures.

Masonry is non-homogeneous, and its strength relies heavily on the workmanship of those who originally built it. For this reason, it is a complex material to assess, and not all engineers have experience in its appraisal.

Summer heat could be affecting your building structures

2022 saw unprecedented warmer weather, topping the temperature charts since records began. With temperatures of 40 degrees in some parts of the UK, our weather is only set to get hotter in the future, thanks to global warming and our lack of environmental care. The hot weather can be incredibly dangerous for our young and vulnerable, causing dehydration, hospitalisation and even, in some sad cases, death.

The effects of climate change continue to impact our planet, and extreme weather events are becoming more common across the UK and the globe. We are likely to see not just more intense summer heat but storms, droughts, floods, and wildfires. The average number of days exceeding the hottest temperature has increased from three in 1950 to six in 2022. This trend is expected to continue, coupled with heavier rainfall and flash flooding.

As a result of this future prediction, we are likely to see more damage to building structures and infrastructure, including bridges, roads, railways and airports. If we continue to see longer spells of dry weather, leading the country into prolonged drought periods, subsidence will likely increase, causing damage to homes and businesses across the UK.

This may also interest you:

RWA Consulting: An Interview with Rob

The dangerous effects of summer heat on building structures

Structural Engineering Consulting on High-End Barn Conversions

Merry Christmas from your local team RWA Consulting

Throughout 2022, RWA Consulting has worked with hundreds of clients on a variety of domestic and commercial projects, supporting both locally and further afield. We are looking forward to continuing working with existing clients and working on new projects in 2023. Until this time, we would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a wonderful new year!