Sam Wainwright, Mechanical Engineer
||University of Canterbury
||Bachelor of Engineering (Honours)
|Year of graduation:
Aurecon intern turned graduate Sam Wainwright shares why saying ‘yes’ to every opportunity helped him learn so much during his internship.
Can you tell us a little bit about you?
I was born in England, but my family moved to New Zealand when I was four years old. I grew up on Waiheke Island and moved down south to Canterbury to study at university. I love being outdoors in nature and I am quite keen on all kinds of sport. But when I am indoors, I like to be challenged and tackle complex problems which is why I chose to study engineering.
I applied to join Aurecon as an intern in the Energy and Industrial team in the final year of my degree. After that summer, Aurecon offered me a graduate position which created a seamless transition to the workforce.
What was your internship at Aurecon like?
The Energy and Industrial team in New Zealand provides engineering designs and advice for major energy suppliers and industrial factories across Australasia. Most of the team focus on energy storage, transportation, and renewable production. The remainder assists in designing and optimising the processes for a range of products – predominantly in the dairy industry.
As an intern, I primarily assisted in energy storage and transportation. My day-to-day work allowed me to be involved in project management and technical tasks. Initially, I only assisted in reviewing and updating the financial analysis of project assets as a result of the changes we made in the design.
But as I gained greater understanding of the systems, I was able to contribute more to technical design meetings and help create drawings, reports, and models that assist the contractors during construction.
What were the highlights of your internship?
I have a strong passion to create sustainable engineering designs that help minimise our impacts on the environment. So, one project that I enjoyed the most was analysing the current operations of a process plant to predict trends in power usage. This allowed the team to develop a system to capture the waste energy (in this case, heat) during operation to be used elsewhere in the plant.
How did you overcome challenges during your internship?
There weren’t really any huge challenges, but the short-term nature of an internship made it difficult to dive deep into projects that I was keen to gain more experience on. Despite this, I was able to constantly experience new projects each week, learn about the various engineering solutions required, and it allowed me to find out which specific team within E&I I wished to join.
What’s one lesson you learned from your internship that you didn’t learn in university?
Communication and people skills are some of the most valuable assets you can build especially during the early stages of your career. Everyone we interact with in day-to-day activities has different backgrounds so being able to effectively convey your work is an important skill we need to have. Using this when building relationships with your clients and colleagues will bring benefits to both your work and your daily experiences.
What advice can you give to students and future interns?
- Ensure that you are continuing with a healthy work-life balance! Focusing too hard on one aspect will spiral you into a trap. Make sure you enjoy your work and have some great hobbies outside of university and the office that can help you switch off.
- It sounds like a cliché, but make sure to say ‘yes’ to each opportunity that comes your way. Because of this, I have been able to learn about a wide range of systems and gained a variety of skills that I continue to use. Some projects I thought I would not have enjoyed as much surprised me, while others have shown me what I don’t want to continue doing.
- Be sure to get involved with the practical side of the design, whatever position you take up. Seeing ‘the realities’ of your work really highlights areas you can improve that you never would normally see.