Career profile: Curious about Civil Engineering? - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Career profile: Curious about Civil Engineering?

17 Feb 2020

Ever wondered what a Civil Engineer does? Well, they plan, design, build and maintain the infrastructure we rely on as a civilisation – including things like buildings, roads, water systems and more. Just ask USC Civil Engineering graduate, Samantha Guy who now works as a Project Engineer finding innovative approaches to improve the health of waterways in the Sunshine Coast region.

Samantha spends her day collaborating with people and organisations to deliver projects that focus on environmentally friendly solutions. There is a diverse range of careers, job types, technical areas and experiences in the Engineering industry, but for Samantha her focus is understanding how society and things work together.

USC Parent Lounge recently spoke with Samantha about how her USC degree prepared her for a rewarding career in civil engineering.

What did you study at USC? I studied a Bachelor of Engineering (Civil)(Honours).

Why did you decide to study this? Originally, I was enrolled in a Bachelor of Creative Writing, as I was still undecided about what career I wanted. However, I was interested in learning more mathematics and applying the skills I had learnt at school which I realised while doing an elective course in maths at uni. Not long into my first semester the option of changing to an engineering degree become an enticing thought, despite being terrified by the idea of how challenging the course might be. With an eagerness for the complex learning opportunity I was fortunately successful in applying to transfer courses.

What was your favourite thing about your degree? How did it prepare you?
Reflecting on my experience, the degree taught me how to think for myself. In complex, problem solving environments where both technical and social aspects need to be considered it is important to be able to gather information, analyse it and apply the knowledge. Many aspects of the engineering degree focused on developing this ability, while also being reflected across focus areas such as environment, project management and design.

What are you doing now? How would you describe your journey since graduating? What have been some of your proud moments? Currently, I am a Project Engineer in Environmental Planning and Sustainability for Unitywater. Having grown up on the Sunshine Coast, it is incredibly rewarding to know I now can give back to the region by contributing to positive outcomes for the future of the community. However, since graduating a big part of my journey has been about learning as much as possible about the water industry to build towards a career that I am passionate about.

What does an ‘average’ day in your job look like? I hold a mostly office-based role providing support in the delivery of projects that focus on green engineering solutions. This means applying environmentally friendly solutions rather than infrastructure specific solutions. A big part of what I do is working with passionate people and organisations, collaborating and finding innovative approaches to improve the health of the waterways in our region. As a Project Engineer in a strategic team, there is a mix of project work that requires project management skills and coordination but also research and technical applications.

How is your industry changing? The biggest changes are the approaches considered when overcoming key challenges such as population growth and the impacts of climate change in how water is managed. Decisions and investments made now need to incorporate a collective vision across the whole industry for the future we want as a society, and a big part of this is acknowledging the impacts we have on all aspects (economic, social and environmental).

What is something about your career/industry that many people don’t know? Engineering encompasses a diverse range of careers, job types, technical areas and experiences. For me the focal point of my interest in the engineering career is wanting to understand how society and things work together. I have a broad interest across multiple aspects and want to apply holistic thinking to delivering positive outcomes for society and environment.

What is your favourite thing about your job/career? I mostly enjoy learning about the way things work around us and hope that I can build enough understanding and technical competence to influence decision making.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about a career in your area? An engineering degree can be quite complex in nature, but even more so is selecting an engineering career. My advice would be to build a good sense of what interests you early in the degree. Figure out what you enjoy doing and what inspires you about the world and go searching for these things in your engineering career.

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