Hussein Mohammed - Second place

Second year PhD student, Edinburgh Fire Research Centre

I was working at Curtins, a civil and structural engineering consultancy, before I decided to join the University of Edinburgh’s Edinburgh Fire Research Centre to start my research into the spalling of high-performance concrete at elevated temperatures like those which occur during a fire. "Spalling" is a technical term to describe the breaking off of concrete layers.

Before then, I was fighting the Home Office to not deport me back to a country that I fled, and before that I was living in Iraq and practicing civil engineering, having graduated from the University of Sulaimani.

My first encounter with engineering was due to my brother, who has a degree in mechanical engineering. When visiting one of the major cities in Iraq (Erbil) to attend a festival, I noticed how big the hall was and how there were no 'walls' to support the roof.

So I asked my brother: "how come the roof doesn't fall on us?" He pointed at the trusses and then tried, as best as he could, to explain how the trusses were holding up the roof and how they worked (at that point, magic would have been a more convincing answer!).

Ever since, great open spaces have been amusing and fascinating to me and I eventually ended becoming a structural engineer.

My picture is not of the trusses in that hall from Erbil city; this is a picture of HUGE truss that I designed in 2019-2020 for the new Nucleus building that is going up right now on the King's Buildings campus – which will be a new hub for science and engineering students at the University.

This truss will provide a huge amount of open space within the Nucleus building when it opens, and I could not be prouder to have had something to do with that. I have used this picture on my personal LinkedIn to promote engineering and the satisfaction that one gets from it.

Hussein standing between steel beams on the Nucleus building construction site within King's Buildings
In what other profession do you get to stand (literally) in the middle of your own work, and be told what was a few lines on my computer screen now weighs over 17 tons?! Engineering is super cool!