Civil Engineering

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Angela Wang, Downer EDI

Earning: $40-80,000
In a nutshell: Providing technical support for infrastructure development.
Why? “The best part is seeing things built based on your personal input.”

Pathway Waitakere College, Year 13: Physics, Calculus, Chemistry, Art Design, Classics
University of Auckland: Bachelor of Engineering, majoring in Civil Engineering

Well before her career began, Angela Wang decided to keep as many options open as possible. “I remember in Year 11 picking the subjects I would take in the next couple of years to prepare for any tertiary education I might want to get,” she says.  “I knew I wanted to do engineering, but I didn’t decide at that point which field of engineering I wanted to do.”

Now Angela is a graduate engineer working in the engineering technical support team at Downer NZ. She provides technical support in the form of designs  for tenders or ongoing  projects.

Her role often spans multiple stages of a given project.  “In a tender, one section is methodologies for how you are going to do the work,” she explains.  “You want to explain it from a technical point of view so the review team can look at it and understand exactly what they will be doing. Later, if a project requires expertise in a particular area like pavement or structures, we step in and help them with any designs they might need.”

One of her most exciting projects was the Northern Gateway toll road. “It was an alliance between two contracting companies, a number of consultants and the NZ Transport Agency – a $360 million+ job.  I personally worked on roading and services team, constructing most of the roadside  ducting for lighting and fibre optics. I was working as a site engineer and was responsible for three subcontracting crews.”

Projects like this one give her the opportunity to take on leadership roles and prove herself to the members of her team. “It’s about how you conduct yourself,” she says.  “If you come across as genuine and wanting to help, then I think that whole barrier of male and female, young and old just goes away after a while.”

Angela has quickly learned to rely on the support of her teammates and learn from their example. She finds that even experienced engineers ask for advice rather than relying solely on their own interpretation, and they’re always picking up new expertise on the job.

“You don’t realise how quickly you can learn until you’re thrown into that situation,” she says.  “This is one of the reasons I like engineering so much.  You are always faced with these challenges and it makes life a bit more exciting.”

Posted December 2011