As a Conservation Engineer, Jeremy Foster deals with complex historic structures. This allows him to take on modern engineering challenges which range from 'cantilevered stone staircases' in glass to picking up a building whilst we put three or four basements beneath.
How has your career developed?
"With strange amounts of good fortune' is the short answer. Turning from military college and the Royal Engineers to a small structural practice in Wiltshire where I was exposed to a wide variety of rural vernacular buildings. This sparked a passion for heritage engineering. My slightly geeky pursuit of this, in part, got me the Apprentice of the Year Award and finally I found my niche at Ramboll as Conservation Engineer.
What do you work with?
"As a Conservation Engineer I find myself gravitating to heritage buildings. However the challenges we face with historic structures means I often deal with tricky projects. These range from 'cantilevered stone staircases' in glass to picking up a building whilst we put three or four basements beneath.
What does a typical work day for you look like?
"I'm not sure I have one. I get called on to a lot of other people's awkward stuff. Lots of heritage buildings in need of care. All of which is fun and rewarding. Recently the collapse of the Apollo theatre ceiling has been a forensic engineering challenge but it is very varied."
What would you describe as the most defining moment in your career?
"I was lucky enough to be awarded Apprentice of the Year by the Rotary Club as a young Design Engineer back in 1990. The 'prize' was nine weeks work on various engineering projects in Australia. The people I met really broadened my horizons and demonstrated how professionals 'gifting' their skills to charities can make a huge difference to society."
What do you find motivating about your work?
"It's a people business. Both what we produce and how we produce it. The more I work as an engineer the more I am aware how the built environment has a direct influence on how people feel. Great design goes beyond form and function, it's a visceral thing. You have to get passionately involved and when you do it's hugely rewarding through the process and reflects in what we produce. With conservation work you are often dealing with extremely emotive projects that are wedded to the heart of the community. You have to genuinely care about your subject to be good at it."