Balazs graduated from our undergraduate degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering with a year aborad (MEng) in 2014. He was on the Dean’s list and received the Walter Redlich Prize upon graduation. After graduation he joined BuroHappold’s Cities practice as an engineer. His final year research was on the Socio-hydrological analysis of the Gezira irrigation scheme in the Sudan, undertaken at the Technical University of Delft under the supervision of Maurits W. Ertsen. 

Why did you choose to study at Imperial?
I wanted to study civil engineering to be able to make a difference in the world, as I think many of us do when we are 18. Imperial had a great course, offered a lot of project-based courses and a year abroad scheme. It is also in London, a city I always wanted to live in. All these elements contributed to me applying and deciding to join the course. 

What have you done since leaving Imperial?
I quite quickly understood that I did not want to become a traditional civil engineer, so I pivoted slightly. I was always interested in international development so I joined BuroHappold’s Cities practice, a consultancy team that works on urban strategies around the world. I worked with them in the Middle East and South East Asia for about three years. Following that, I joined DG Cities where I currently work as Head of Delivery. It is a small company that looks at using a range of new technologies and behavioural approaches to solve urban problems.

What has been your most rewarding project you have worked on and why?
It is difficult to choose, but probably establishing the Smart Mobility Living Lab in London was my favourite project. With a large consortium of partners, we designed and set up a national research centre for self-driving vehicles and connected infrastructure. The project was rewarding as we started with not much more than a blank sheet of paper with only an approximate idea of what we wanted by the end. Over three years these ideas turned into a facility that runs research in the centre of London with autonomous vehicles as well as a range of supporting technologies, generating insights for companies and government bodies alike.

How has your degree helped?
My degree has helped me to do my job, but more with the mindset it fostered than the actual courses. Working through the challenging aspects of the degree, doing daily exams, project works, etc. all gave me confidence to tackle any situations in the workplace. The engineering approach to analysing problems also helps as there are a lot of new technologies that I did not study but can instead understand when needed.

What would be your advice to a student starting out on a career in Civil and Environmental Engineering?
I think studying civil engineering can be a great way to understanding how the built environment works around us. If one is fascinated by buildings or the infrastructure that helps to run a city, there is nothing better to study. As the net zero transition will become the priority of the UK’s political agenda, civil engineers will have an enormous part in delivering that transition. There is also so much more to civil engineering now than there was even 10 years ago. Designing transport systems today is exciting due to self-driving and electric cars, the building sector is begging for more innovation, net zero transition will not get delivered using traditional approaches due to the scale of the challenge. Having the skillset of a civil engineer can be an entry to a lot of exciting careers, without necessarily the need to stand on a construction site in the rain and cold or having to size beams all day long.