Pip Ayton

Pip AytonI am the Bridge Manager for the Trunk Road Structures in the South West of Scotland employed by Scotland TranServ (Mouchel/Balfour Beatty).  My team inspects and maintains about 1800 bridges, culverts, high mast lights and retaining walls including the Kingston bridge which carries the M8 through Glasgow the Erskine cable stay bridge which many of you will have travelled over journeying to the Highlands.   The work is very varied.  All highway structures need to be inspected every 2 years, so we produce about 900 inspections annually.  From these inspections we prioritise maintenance work depending upon defect severity and budget availability.  Works are then planned, procured and undertaken taking cognisance of health and safety, road space availability, staff availability and seasonal restrictions.  As the Client, Transport Scotland, keeps disruption to the travelling public to a minimum, most work, including inspections are carried out overnight.  So I work a few night shifts.  Transport Scotland dictates how much money we can spend where.  This is discussed at monthly meetings, which I hold with the client backed up and supported by my team of chartered engineers, graduates, technicians and inspectors.  My job is now largely managerial however I am involved with reviewing and signing off inspections, design approvals, inspections (the client stipulates that certain structures must be inspected by a chartered engineer) and technical review workshops so it isn’t all budget meetings!

I graduated with a sandwich degree in Civil Engineering in the 1980s having worked for three  6 month periods on different pipelines as an undergraduate.  My first post graduate post was with a steel frame fabricator in Yorkshire where I designed conventional and tapered frame buildings.  When I married I moved to Scotland where I worked for a consulting engineer and designed and detailed reinforced concrete.  I then moved into local government in the roads department where I became a chartered member of the Institution of Civil Engineers and specialised in bridges.  I have continued to do so ever since analysing, strengthening, maintaining and inspecting them.  

As an undergraduate in the 1980s I first came into contact with WES whilst researching for my final year dissertation on why there are so few women engineers.  I joined the Society and became involved in promoting engineering in schools and I have actively supported WES events in schools and colleges ever since.  This has included judging the local Young Engineers for Britain competitions and most recently helping with the ICE Bridges for Schools as a STEM ambassador.  If you are not already a STEM ambassador become one – its great fun.
Up until 2013 I was an active member of the Karen Burt Award panel.  In the 1990s I ran WES’s Scottish Circle and lead the team that delivered the Glasgow conference.  I am still a keen supporter of the many activities which WES organises in Scotland.  I have assisted with interviews for the Lady Finniston award in Scotland and am currently on the Doris Gray panel making decisions on award applications.

Over the years I have been a stalwart supporter of WES encouraging others to join, regularly attending conference (my first was the launch of WISE in the 1980s), local meetings, helping out in schools and in the early years stuffing a lot of envelopes. I was even president for a year.  Its a great society and I am very proud to be a Fellow.  And it’s a lot easier now we have e-mail!