What is it like to study for a PhD while working at Patrick Parsons?

6 May 2021

Chrysanthi Stroumpouli is one of our Structural Engineers, based out of our Twickenham office. She has been with Patrick Parsons since 2020 and is currently studying for her PhD, on the subject of tall building aerodynamics at City, University of London.

Taking on a PhD is one thing, but doing so while working as a Structural Engineer is another. Chrysanthi took some time out of her hectic schedule, to tell us what it’s like to study for a PhD alongside working as an engineer.

Why did you chose to complete a PhD?

I didn’t always plan to do a PhD. After my Masters Degree I kept in touch with my professors at the research centre at University, as while I was working in industry I was also working at the research centre as a volunteer. One day my colleague at Patrick Parsons was having a problem with one of the projects he was working on and it gave me an idea. I said, “wait a moment, this thing needs to be researched.” I went to my old tutor and he said, “you need to do a PhD on this” and the rest is history!

Completing my PhD is going to give me the freedom to multitask, which I love. I can choose between academia and working in industry. People would always tell me that I had to choose one or the other, but then as I continued on my career journey I met those who advised me that I can do both, I don’t have to choose. I think having a background in both will help me to do my job better.

Can you tell us about your role at Patrick Parsons?

I have worked at Patrick Parsons for the last year and a half as a Structural Engineer. My role involves the design of structures, calculations, interacting with other project teams and undertaking site visits. It’s great being at Patrick Parsons because we get to work on so many projects and I am able to learn new skills from the people I work with.

What do you love most about being a Structural Engineer?

It’s a profession that is very creative, combining mathematics and physics that are applied to real life. There is an ongoing application of theories that is very interesting, you have to use your own judgment to see if the theory can applied. You also have to deal with timescales and make sure that you stick to the deadlines given. Being a structural engineer is not only about science, you also have to apply life skills to get the job done. I am constantly learning which I love and I think that even when I am 60 I’ll still keep on learning everyday.

How has Patrick Parsons supported you with your studies?

I am grateful that I was able to come to an arrangement with Patrick Parsons, so that I am able to do my PhD and still continue to work. My time is split working 2.5 days a week and the rest of the time I spend studying. They have been very supportive of my studies and Patrick Parsons have even co-funded my PhD alongside the University, which has been wonderful for me.

What are your long term career goals?

I don’t have a specific career goal. I want to keep going with one foot in academia and one in industry, as they feed each other and will help me to constantly evolve. I just want to continue to do the best I can, that’s my goal.

Chrysanthi will be completing her PhD within the next 3 years and everyone at Patrick Parsons is looking forward to celebrating with her!

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