Jessica Haskett is a graduate design manager in our Construction business, working in the London, South & Strategic Projects team. 

Here, Jessica talks about her multi-disciplinary experience and inspiration to continue working within the construction industry beyond university.

 “In college, I studied maths, physics and fine art and I wanted to figure out a way to bring them all together, which led me to study architectural engineering at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Over the course of five years, my knowledge, understanding and passion for civil and structural engineering, sustainability, and low carbon design grew; all of which ran alongside a deepened technical development of building services design. 

During my third year, my peers and I founded an extra-curricular project team called, Team ESTEEM with a purpose to design and build a multifunctional solar powered house in collaboration with industry professionals and academics within the construction industry.

I was initially responsible for leading the whole team for 18 months growing the team, from design to the renders. Following this, I focused on change management and refined my technical capabilities and skills to construction manage the entirety of the detailed design, logistics, site operations and buildability through Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) manufacture and prototype construction.

The smart home has a contemporary approach to Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing (MEP), including the use of radiant cooled ceiling panels, flat-pack solar thermal for hot water generation and storage with PCM batteries; solar powered electricity generation and subsequent electricity storage managed by an intelligent BMS system; and greywater recycling, realising the precious materials and the need to conserve and preserve free energy.

A key feature of the home is its structure, which is made from raw Scottish Sitka spruce and manufactured into CLT panels locally in Glasgow– a national first

I am proud to say that our solar powered house was not only, Heriot-Watt University’s official entrant into the Solar Decathlon Middle East 2020 competition, but also the only UK finalist. The competition build runs from 25th October to 8th November and the testing runs from 11-24 November in conjunction with World EXPO – which I recently found out Kier played an integral role in delivering this exhibition centre that spans 440 hectares! I can’t wait to see it when I travel with 25 peers to build and exhibit our smart home project.

Proving the infrastructure exists within the UK for mass timber has been revolutionary solution and I can’t wait to showcase this achievement to the world at EXPO. I am also interested to see other architectural designs from across the globe and say I’ve played a part in driving innovation within the industry.

I am proud to showcase the sustainability work I have been involved in and hope that I can continue efforts at Kier to deliver low-carbon design. Kier has been incredibly interested and supportive of my work with Team ESTEEM.

What excites me about working for Kier is that the business works across a diverse range of projects and I joined based on a feeling that I would be able to utilise my holistic, adaptable communication and technical skills. Working in design means I can support the industry’s carbon agenda which is incredibly important to me - I know I can bring some unique viewpoints and expertise to these areas.

I am now based out of Kier’s Solent office in Hampshire and work closely with design teams, suppliers, and sub-contractors to map out ideas and ensure a focused delivery across our projects. I feel this role is a great lead from the experience I have gained with Team ESTEEM and I look forward to learning more from my peers.

Working in construction is challenging and every day there is a new problem to solve, no two days are the same and I love that. I really would encourage others to find out more about the construction industry - to see the reward of project delivery and the collaborative and people-friendly nature of design.

The industry ultimately drives the way everybody interacts day-to-day with each other within buildings, and the impact it can have on communities is incredible.”

For more information about Kier’s graduate programme, click here.