The journey from high school to careers in STEM 

Want to be an architect or engineer? Or not sure what jobs you can do with high school maths and science?  

Two young Caymanians shared their journey from school to university to jobs at Dart at the recent Career Guidance Programme hosted by Minds Inspired and the Cayman Society of Architects, Surveyors and Engineers (CASE). 

Francisco Monteiro is an architect intern at Dart who is starting his masters in London in the fall. Benjamin Davey is a construction engineer in charge of project management at sites including Seafire and the recent renovation of The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman. 

Francisco and Ben shared their career stories with 18 students from six high schools across Grand Cayman as part of the two-day programme designed to inspire the next generation of architects, engineers and surveyors. 

You can read about some of the insights they shared here: 

Have you always wanted to do the job you are doing now? 

Francisco: Yes, I knew in high school I wanted to become an architect and chose maths and higher level art as subjects for my IB full diploma. I consider myself an artist and I’ve always enjoyed maths, as much as one can! I know it sounds like a cliché, but as a kid I loved building stuff, playing with Lego and designing houses on Sims. 

Ben: My career has been more organic. After studying Materials Engineering at the University of Manchester, I explored my options in academia and ultimately decided to take a year out to try my hand at a few things like construction work and web design. When I came back to Cayman, I applied for a job in document control at Dart. Because of my background in engineering, I was encouraged to move into construction engineering which ultimately led me to project management. 

How relevant was your undergraduate degree to your current job? 

Francisco: I studied architecture at the University of West England in Bristol. In our first lecture, the professor warned us that of the 150 students present, only 20 of us would become architects. Many branch out into interior design or other related paths. I was interested in urban planning and landscape architecture as well as architecture, but they are all inter-connected, as I have found working at Dart. I would have liked the opportunity to collaborate with architect professionals as part of my undergraduate programme. 

Ben: I studied Materials Engineering at university because I was interested in graphene in the growing field of nanotechnology, which is the study of very small things. It gave me a good foundation in engineering principles which I still use almost every day at my current job. Studying engineering doesn’t lock you into becoming an engineer forever, the process gives you skills that are transferrable. 

How important is work experience? 

Francisco: I did an internship with the Design Studio in Camana Bay during high school, which reinforced my desire to become an architect. After a two-year internship working at Dart with James Lunn on projects such as Kapok and 60 Nexus Way, I am looking forward to furthering my education and studying for my masters in London. 

Ben: Back in 2005, I was lucky enough to be a summer student with the construction team in charge of project management. Years later I returned to Dart who helped pay for my masters from the University of Liverpool, and at the same time organised a secondment for me with McAlpine in London. I worked on large-scale, historically listed projects such as the Selfridges renovation and a mixed-use building in Knightsbridge, which kept its original façade but was completely rebuilt behind. It taught me new construction technologies, as well as organisational and planning skills I could apply to project management. 

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