Shannie Su, Transport Engineer
|University:||The University of Auckland|
|Degree completed:||Bachelor of Civil Engineering (Honours)|
|Strongest Aurecon Attribute:||Sense Maker|
A day in the life of a transport engineer
Transport engineer Shannie Su shares what a day in the life of an Aurecon graduate looks like, from developing her road design skills at day to mentoring and empowering young female engineers at night.
My day usually starts at 7.30am but since my colleagues and I are all going into the Auckland office today, we’ll be carpooling to work together! After my daily routine – getting dressed, eating breakfast, and packing my lunch – I pick up my colleagues from the North Shore.
We manage to avoid the long traffic queue and halve our travel time by using the T3 lane along the Highbury Bypass to get onto State Highway 1. It’s more sustainable to carpool together than each driving to work individually! Thanks to Aurecon’s YesFlex flexible working policy, we can choose to work from home when we know what days the traffic is super congested on the Auckland Harbour Bridge and State Highway 1.
On our way to work, we update each other about the type of work we are currently doing and the things happening in our personal lives. Times flies when we are having an enjoyable chit-chat!
My office is an agile working space, so after arriving at my floor I pick my work desk next to a window for the day. Okay, time to start work! I first check my emails, calendar, and Microsoft Teams chat to note down new tasks allocated to me and then I revisit the meetings I have on for the day. By planning my day, I make time to research technical terms, design work, learn new software or catch-up on a recorded webinar/Aurecon lunchtime talk. As I’m still fairly new to my position, I like to use my time at work to ensure I am learning something new every day. Now, I’m a graduate transport engineer working on multiple transport projects of varying sizes and at different design stages such as business cases, preliminary designs, and detailed designs. In my role, the 2D design and drafting skills I’m developing now will provide a solid foundation for when I learn 3D modelling design, while project administration helps me understand the fundamental parts of running a project, such as the project cost control, communication with different stakeholders and programming. Learning these skills will keep my career path open to project management roles instead of being restricted to only technical roles.
I’m currently working on an Issue for Construction (IFC) Rotorua roading design deliverable. The team’s design manager runs a daily catch-up to go through what task each member did yesterday, tasks for the day, and a discussion where we can ask design questions or talk about any roadblocks. As there are several offices working on this project — our modeller is in the Wellington office and our project leader is in the Tauranga office — people are attending today’s meeting either in person or through Microsoft Teams. By immersing myself in these meetings, I develop both my technical and my communication skills, asking the senior engineers technical questions about tasks and understanding the current project’s progress and what other people are working on. Working on a project like this is an awesome opportunity to learn how Aurecon designs and manages projects by listening to the discussion between all roles and positions.
I make it a habit to stretch my legs after an hour-long meeting, so I go down to level 3 to grab some fruit and have a cup of tea in the kitchen for morning tea. Sometimes we have an office morning tea organised by the Diversity and Inclusion team to celebrate different cultural festivals, such as the Hindu Diwali Festival where we feasted on traditional Indian snacks, or the Moon festival where Chinese mooncakes and tea were offered.
Back to my desk! I start drafting up a road geometry and road design using modelling software, such as AutoCAD and CIVIL3D. Normally I’ll get some instruction or mark-ups on what standards I should refer to or the design mark-ups; but today I’m using my CAD skills to help the digital specialist clean up some old design files so that he can build up an Infraworks design model compiled with the bridge and architectural design.
Presenting the design in a conveyable way to help people visualise the design is important when communicating within teams or with the client. It plays a big part in a project’s success and in delivering an excellent client experience, which I’m always passionate about! In my quiet periods, I try to develop my digital skills in computation design and visualisation by learning Infraworks and Grasshopper/Rhino through Aurecon’s learning platforms.
It’s 12 o’clock – lunch time! Aurecon has flexible working hours, which means you get to choose when you want to have lunch. Through Aurecon Limelight, a network for young professionals, and graduate events, I’ve met a bunch of graduate engineers from different teams and units and we usually have lunch together. Sometimes we head out to the Auckland Domain park on a sunny day to switch off our work brain and relax.
Back to the office – I get ready to meet my Aurecon mentor and revisit discussion topics and questions I prepared earlier for our meeting! Aurecon has a well-built mentorship guidance programme, called Mentoring for Success, that helps you develop your skills and progress your career. Today’s topic is about accreditation and time management, and involvement internally and externally. Being able to hear my mentor’s past experiences and ask questions helps me generate new ideas and positively influences the way I should work and grow. After every meeting I gain more confidence and motivation to drive myself to pursue my passion as my mentor is always encouraging and advocating.
After the mentoring session, I quickly pack up my bag as the design manager and I are taking a taxi to attend a road safety audit (RSA) exit meeting at an auditing company. This is my first RSA meeting and a part of the Aurecon Plus One initiative, which encourages experienced colleagues to share their knowledge and daily work life with new/young employees – like me! It’s also the perfect learning opportunity since I get to experience client meetings, site visits or senior leadership meetings. During the meeting, I learn the importance of site visits for a safe design, and a good designer should never design things based purely on online maps. This experience provides an insight of how engineers communicate with clients and how to deliver an excellent client experience, which is beneficial for my future involvement in client activities.
It’s near the end of my workday! One of my afternoon routines is to go through the daily Aurecon media email and my LinkedIn feed to keep myself updated on the latest news inside Aurecon, across the engineering industry and the world.
I also take time to review and reflect on the tasks I’ve completed today and do a self-evaluation of my daily achievements, including things to improve or lessons learnt. Doing this will keep me motivated and help me to adjust my focus if needed when it’s not aligning with my performance and development goals. Afterwards, I note down the schedule and unfinished tasks I will need to work on tomorrow.
The day is not finished for me yet. Since I have a strong interest in empowering female engineers and promoting engineering, I signed up to be an industrial mentor for University of Auckland engineering students via the Women in Engineering Network (WEN) and Civil Engineering Student Association (CESA) mentoring programme. I’m attending one of the launch night sessions and am very excited to meet with the younger version of me. I had some very interesting and inspiring conversations and am excited to meet my future mentee soon!
Whoa – it’s been a long day and it’s time for me to go home! After having a good dinner with my cousins, I do a 30-minute yoga session to relax and recharge myself, and to get my mind ready for the next day!