The Mentoring Manager and 8 students from Brunel University London were invited to join Morgan Sindall’s INWED17 celebrations at Heathrow on the 23 June 2017.
When the group arrived at Starlight Point they were met by female engineers from Morgan Sindall, Turner & Townsend, Heathrow Airport and Ferrovial Agroman. They were also joined by engineering apprentices from the Heathrow Aviation Engineering UTC.
The group heard the very interesting career journey of Heathrow’s Development Director Caroline Sheridan, where she highlighted the many varied opportunities that are available if you have vision, are hard–working and focused. She has proudly been able to show her children the buildings, bridges and airport aprons that she had designed and built when she was “on the tools”, proving that engineering is such a tangible industry. Caroline also impressed on the students that it is possible for women to achieve professionally and also manage a family and a personal life.
After an unplanned fire alarm and a detailed health and safety briefing the group were then kitted out in PPE so that they could visit Heathrow Airport’s Eastern Balancing Reservoir. Jorges from Morgan Sindall, who led the tour, explained in detail the complications of running a site where old and new technologies run side by side as the improvements are made. At any one time there are 40 engineers on site with three separate entrances – a logistical complication.
After the tour and whilst waiting for the coach there was a chance for the group to have some informal networking conversations with the professional engineers, showing the students that it is important to research many companies and engineering roles, sometimes outside of their specific course, to find the right fit for them.
Within the perimeter fence, Heathrow Airport covers an area of 1047 hectares, which includes a large proportion of impermeable areas. These are the concrete runways and taxiways that are used by aircraft, buildings roofs and other structures that are important to the operation of any hub airport. Heathrow has an extensive drainage network to capture and treat any rainfall runoff that has high levels of BOD and therefore minimise any impact on water quality. This infrastructure is collectively referred to as the Pollution Control System and combines different water management techniques and technologies to treat airport runoff with higher levels of Biochemical oxygen demand, BOD. The Heathrow pollution control system is made up of three major catchments including the Eastern Catchment discharging rainfall runoff from the Pollution Control System into the River Crane.
The de-icing products in use at Heathrow act as food for naturally occurring bacterial, which break them down using oxygen in the water. This can result in low oxygen levels in the receiving water body and contribute to sewage fungus growths. These improvements are intended to take these natural processes and concentrate them in a treatment facility at Eastern Balancing Reservoir. Improvements in infrastructure designed to trap de-icer at source will help to manage peak loads but will not replace the need for ‘end of pipe’ technology.
The proposed infrastructure improvements have been developed over several years to try and balance the complicated relationships between airport operations, the function of the existing pollution control infrastructure and weather conditions with providing the best environmental outcome for the River Crane and the local environment.