Bachelors of Science in Engineering (Civil)
“A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.” – John Steinbeck
Thabiso Christopher is a Junior Civil Engineer at Aurecon. As an Aurecon bursary holder, he has been involved with Aurecon for seven years and joined the company to start working full-time when he completed his degree at Wits University three years ago.
“At university, I was passionate about everything and anything that could change my preconceived notions about something. I enjoy writing and was privileged to study a wide variety of subjects like Philosophy and English Literature that made my mind tick,” says Thabiso.
As a Junior Civil Engineer, Thabiso assists Aurecon’s senior engineers in bringing clients’ ideas to life.
“While I do a lot of design work, I’m also the eyes and ears on site for our project leaders. I’ve still got the backup and guidance of all of our experienced engineers with everything I do, but I’m looking forward to start leading projects in the future once I become a professional engineer,” says Thabiso.
One of the things that Thabiso values about Aurecon is the flexibility given to graduates with regards to pursuing their personal and professional goals..
“At Aurecon, you are the master of your own career and there are many opportunities for you to pursue. While having greater career path flexibility can feel like a challenging development path, I’ve had the opportunity to get involved in many exciting, innovative and unconventional projects early on in my career, which is unheard of at any other large engineering consultancy. I’ve been able to really reflect on what I want to learn and I’ve been given the opportunity to grow in the areas that interest me. The fact that Aurecon is a global company also means that I could get to work on international projects, which is an amazing opportunity,” says Thabiso.
One of the highlights of Thabiso’s career was being able to work on the Sandton City Office Tower Refurbishment. This iconic 43 year old tower in Sandton CBD needed to undergo a major visual refurbishment. The existing concrete facade had to be re-clad with a new glass and steel facade across the entire height of the building.
“Each strip of concrete had to be checked to make sure the existing structural faces could support the weight of the new facade. Being 130 metres up in the air, watching the Sandton traffic passing by under my feet, was an exhilarating experience,” says Thabiso.
Thabiso says that one of the hardest things that he has had to wrap his head around was the idea of moving beyond the trusted metrics, models and theories that he learned while he was studying at university.
“When you are studying engineering, you learn all these models and theories about how things are predicted to work, but when you start working, you quickly discover that real things don’t always behave in their idealised models. You need to push the comfort of the ideal maths and physics aside and see them only as tools that will allow you to reimagine bigger, greater things. You take the proven scientific models and use them to make the unthinkable, real. This has been the hardest thing for me to grasp and I’m still learning how to do that each day,” says Thabiso.
Thabiso says that innovative thinking starts with challenging the norms.
“It’s important to understand the fundamentals and the basic principles so that you know when not to use them. Sometimes you have to go beyond the rules, break things to see how they work and then put them back together in a new way. You need to have the freedom to make safe mistakes,” concludes Thabiso.