Riana Hattrell

Riana Hattrell

Civil engineering and being an author, meet Riana!

Riana Hattrell is a talented graduate civil engineer, currently working on our Oxford Station project for Kier Transportation. Already, she’s managed to inspire and encourage new people into our industry through her creative ideas and characters in her book, The Build-It Family – Sammi on Site.

We recently caught up with Riana to find out a bit more about her career so far, and of course, her book!

Throughout her time in secondary school, Riana didn’t know exactly what it was she wanted to do, (something that contributes to her inspiration with her book), and it wasn’t until the age of 17 or 18, that she first thought about becoming a civil engineer. “Honestly, I think it’s because I didn’t know what a civil engineer was before then”, she explained, “I just thought there were builders on site, working in the mud, perhaps a little naïve, I guess!”

Riana then went on to study civil engineering at Loughborough University, and she was soon offered an interview with us at Kier through a scheme supported by her course. Riana joined us for a series of placements, including projects in rail, highways, and most recently, a project in Plymouth.

Riana graduated with a master’s in civil engineering, with first-class honours, and is now back working at Kier after a brief stint away travelling, working on our Oxford Station project.

So, what about the book, The Build-It Family – Sammi on Site?

During Riana’s time on our A13 project, she was nominated by her team for the Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) Southern awards, where she came runner up in the “Most Promising Industrial Placement” category. “It was here that the chair of the CECA Southern spoke to me and shared an exciting opportunity to get involved with a new CECA foundation, called CECA NextGen, with a key focus of promoting the civil engineering and construction industry to current and future generations,” Riana was immediately interested and has now been with the group for over two years.

When putting the book together, one of Riana’s key focuses was on character development, and creating a character that would resonate with the targeted age group of five - to eight-year-olds with the aim of making the construction industry, and civil engineering, appeal to them. “I think Sammi, [the main character] is somewhat inspired by characters like Thomas the Tank Engine, which I grew up watching.” In the book, Sammi is gender neutral, a decision made to enable the reader to decide how they relate to the character, through their own imagination – along with the fact that it makes it clear that the construction industry is inclusive of everyone.

“As well as creating Sammi, I also wrote the story”, Riana said. “Sammi invites you along in the book to see what life is like in construction, exploring everything from sustainability to health and safety, and from job roles to technical processes”.

The team consists of five storybook helpers who enlisted the help of an aspiring illustrator. “It’s colourful, bold and bright, Alicia [the illustrator] has done a great job!”.

1,000 copies were initially printed upon release of the book, however, far more have already been sold, some of which posted as far away as South Africa and Australia. It remains part of the plan to distribute further copies of the book to libraries and schools up and down the UK, whilst still available to be purchased by individuals.

Riana has high hopes for the future of the book, with the aim to look at developing new characters, storylines, and adventures, “there’s already been talks about another book for the series, which I’m brainstorming for. Perhaps it might even be a little side-hustle for me!”

“Right now, though, I love being in the construction industry and doing the work for real,” Riana said.

It was fantastic to catch up with Riana and find out more about the successes of the book so far, and we’re excited to see what’s next!

If you’re interested in purchasing a copy of the book, you can do so here.

Apply Now