Civil Engineering

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Site engineer

Site engineer

Harry Brownlee, Fletcher Construction

Earning: $50-60,000
In a nutshell: Assisting the Project Engineer to deliver large infrastructure projects (costing more than $1M) safely, efficiently and to specification.
Why? “I like the variety – every day I am faced with a new set of challenges.”

Pathway Rosmini College, Year 13: Statistics, Calculus, Physics, English, Geography, Economics
University of Auckland: Bachelor of Engineering (Hons), majoring in Civil Engineering

Harry originally started a surveying degree but then he was drawn to the variety of opportunities that available in engineering. “My parents were my greatest influence,” he says. “They gave me the confidence to change from surveying to engineering when I thought I wasn’t ‘brainy’ enough.”

“Summer work is a vital part of the engineering degree as it helps you in the transition from university to the real world,” he says. Harry’s first job was as a student engineer at Fulton Hogan working on a road re-surfacing contract. The next summer he was an intern at Fletcher Construction where he got his first taste of a large engineering project and decided that it was definitely the job for him. Fletcher’s gave him a scholarship to help with his studies and offered him a position as a site engineer on the Victoria Park Tunnel Project when he graduated.

The things Harry likes best about his job are the variety of what he does everyday and moving from project to project. He has worked on Project Hobson, which was a sewerage pumping station 40 metres under the ground and is now working on a major road tunnel under Victoria Park. “It’s a really exciting project due to the sheer size of the tunnel and the fact that we are constructing it right in the heart of Auckland while keeping the motorway network open,” he says. “And having up to 500 people on site each day means that there is never a dull moment.”

“Maths, science and technology are bread and butter subjects for site engineers,” he says. He regularly uses the basic principles and problem-solving skills from his school days and says that there is a lot of science in engineering. “Few people are aware of the complex chemical reactions which need to occur in concrete in order for it to be strong enough for the massive tunnels and bridges that we build.”

“To the surprise of many people, construction is actually a very creative industry,” he says. “We face challenges that have never been encountered before, and are regularly required to come up with clever ways of temporarily supporting a structure during construction to keep everyone on the site safe.”

Posted October 2011