School of Civil Engineering

A pioneering woman laying concrete foundations for a brighter future

Lorraine Perera

Lorraine Perera, Project Quality Manager
- BE(Hons), MEng, RPEQ, MIEAust, CPEng

Lorraine Perera’s long career in engineering shows how times have changed since her first day at orientation week at the Faculty of Engineering, University of WA more than 25 years ago. A father of a young boy attending orientation, said to Lorraine’s father: “How could you do this to her?”  Lorraine's father however, not only appreciated engineering, but also knew the strategic importance of females entering this male-dominated vocation.

It was daunting for Lorraine at the time, and although Lorraine excelled at Maths and Physics at school, she did not want to be a doctor or a Maths teacher – she aspired to make a difference in society by being an engineer.

“My interests are in fashion and beauty. Engineering is my hobby. My dream is property development”, she says.

Lorraine is realising her dream and creativity. She has engaged designers, architects and builders to build a beautiful architectural masterpiece on her development site using the civil engineering skills in design, quality and project management she has gained from 25 years in the industry.

“Being an engineer, I’ve applied all engineering principles to fine tune the design by looking at different products that will drive costs down as much as possible to make this development accessible to people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford it.

“Girls are generally creative; and if that creativity is nurtured into a passion for finding solutions in our everyday lives, girls can make strides in engineering.  Looking at our global challenge, there are so many aspects that we can delve into as engineers; and by being creative in our thinking, the solutions easily become apparent.

“My advice to students is don’t be discouraged in your initial years at university. The basics of engineering may initially seem to be difficult, but once you grasp the concept it becomes easier.”

Lorraine believes that a great engineer is one with excellent communication skills and it is important that students take up work experience during study to understand the conceptual thinking behind the finished product – to really get an understanding of the ‘how and why?’.

“Get involved in the design, analysis, number crunching and construction in-the-field to expand on the foundations of engineering that are taught at uni in a real-life environment”.

“Engineering is a financially rewarding career. The workplace has changed significantly in the last 10 - 15years, and there is no longer a need for women to make a choice between career and family. One can enjoy success without sacrificing what one believes in”.

Lorraine joined Seymour Whyte because it was an opportunity for her to join a mid-tier organisation, where she could really make an impact and for others to see her capability.

She has more than 25 years’ experience as a civil engineer, including over 15 years’ experience in quality management, independent verification and auditing.

In 2012 Lorraine obtained her RPEQ and CPEng status with her presentation focusing on concrete durability. Her presentation on controlling the Heat of Hydration in Steam Cured Concrete was undertaken with the view to preventing Delayed Ettringite Formation (DEF) and maintaining long term durability in concrete structures.

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Bridging the Gap

Stephanie Rodgers

Stephanie Rodgers, Project Engineer
- B. Eng (Civil) (Hons.), UTS (2008)
- Dip. Engineering Practice, UTS (2008)

Project Engineer Stephanie Rodgers had wanted to build a bridge since she was 10 years old. Since graduating as a civil engineer in 2008, she has built three.

“I have always loved bridges – their aesthetic beauty, geometry and how it all works together – and I wanted to do something where I could experience the tangible outcome of the work,” Stephanie said.

“So it was natural that I should turn to engineering, which was the perfect career for me and I’ve never looked back.”

“Many people may believe that engineering is all about maths and science but there are many ways you can contribute to engineering. People who are interested in solving complicated problems that are of real importance to the world, are the people needed in engineering.”

Australia and the Asia Pacific region face profound challenges over the next 50 years; and it’s our responsibility as engineers to be responsive to the needs of our changing economy – so that we can compete in global trade and build higher standards of living in a sustainable way.

Stephanie believes that diversity realises increased workplace understanding, enhanced creativity to finding solutions and increased quality of team problem-solving – but to get yourself ahead in life – ‘always let your work do the talking’.

Stephanie recommends that young women should look at all types of engineering and should not get hung up on the notion that all engineers have to be highly intellectual. Stephanie admits that she only found her niche at University and really blossomed at it then.

Stephanie’s best advice for students is ‘to get work experience during university semester breaks. Find a company that will offer multiple engineering disciplines to really broaden your horizon of a real life work environment as an engineer’.

For Stephanie the possibilities have been endless. After starting off as a document controller for 3 months on work experience, she also worked as a Surveyor’s Assistant before landing her dream job to build three bridges on the Ipswich Motorway as a Graduate Engineer. Stephanie then worked as a Site Engineer building a railway line for a mine in Western Australia, before returning to the Ipswich Motorway, as a Project Engineer responsible for managing all its maintenance, crew and suppliers.

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Why communication is key to engineering your way around the world in eighty days

Amadine Daniel

Amandine Daniel, Project Engineer
- Master of Engineering, Ecole Spéciale des Travaux Publics, du Bâtiment et de l'Industrie (ESTP Paris, France) (2011)
- Bachelor of Engineering, ESTP (2009)

“For people who like to move around in their job, Amandine Daniel is a fine example of what can be achieved.”

Before joining Seymour Whyte in Brisbane, Amandine had worked in France, Equatorial Guinea in Africa, Sydney and on the Landsborough Highway between Barcaldine and Longreach in Outback Queensland.

As an Undergraduate Civil Methods Engineer, Amandine took the time to spend six months working on a 86km design and construct project for the €252million 86km four lane Bata-Ayak Ntang motorway project in the continental region of Equatorial Guinea.

For Amandine, the opportunity to work overseas and experience a different culture also provided her with the skills and knowledge on how to contend with the very basic constraints of a remote construction site.

“In the Equatorial Guinea, there aren’t many readily available resources. We even had to manufacture our own concrete by assessing the different type of sand or aggregate available in the local river; and plan logistics to bring in supplies and equipment so that construction progressed. The experience gave me an insight into how you actually build a road from nothing. I learnt how to improve construction methodology which is an asset on any road project”, she said.

“Besides learning how to improve construction methodology, the experience gave me insight into communication with people at all levels, where the culture – in traditions or safety – is very different”, she said.

Upon completion of her studies, Amandine moved to Sydney to work on a multi-asset Transport Interchange Project that involved upgrading Glenfield Station, a new bus / rail interchange, construction of flyovers, viaduct and the realignment of Railway Parade.

Here, she was involved in the planning and financial forecasting of two viaducts including: temporary platform construction, 1500mm diameter bored piles, concrete structure, deck unit formation and steelwork.

In the outback, Amandine honed her geotechnical skills and learnt how to develop forecast and financial objectives as well as tracking productivity rates.

On her latest project with Seymour Whyte to upgrade a section of the Gateway Motorway in Brisbane, Amandine says the opportunity to be involved in structures work really appealed to her.

“Building three similar bridges challenged our team to improve efficiency and construction methodology over the stages. It was really interesting to be involved in a number of areas of construction including bridge works, traffic management on the motorway, temporary earthworks for crane pad, dual 400 tonne crane lifts, as well as bridge demolition.”

“There were so many aspects of engineering involved in the project. For example, every aspect of the heavy lifting had to be carefully planned with geotechnical engineers, truck drivers and crane operators, as well as structural and civil engineers. We had to challenge the methodology to maximise every opportunity to minimise the cost without compromising on safety”, she added.

Amandine said, “Key to the success of this project – as well as those in Africa and France – was communication between all parties involved. Construction and engineering is 60% of the job only; communication plays a very large component for any project – or engineer – to be successful.”

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If it can be thought, it can be done, a problem can be overcome

Caitlin Tolone

Caitlin Tolone, Project Engineer
- Bachelor of Civil Engineering

Caitlin loves the outdoor life and coupled with her strong results in technical drawing and maths at school, it was only natural that she should look to engineering for her future employment.

“I beat all the boys in technical drawing and came first in Year 10. So in Year 11 and 12, I took up Engineering Studies. So it was natural that I should turn to engineering, which was the perfect career for me and I’ve never looked back”, Caitlin said.

In her current role, as Project Engineer at Seymour Whyte, Caitlin is responsible for managing all the utility service relocations on the Central Coast Highway Upgrade Project in West Gosford, New South Wales.

On this project, Caitlin is managing the relocation of water, sewer and gas reticulation systems; the relocation of electrical assets including the 66kV electrical lines for Railcorp and Ausgrid; installation of new street lighting and traffic lights; and the relocation of all telecommunications for Telstra, Optus, and Nextgen.

“A number of clients are involved in the project and my role requires a lot of quick-thinking problem-solving to ensure that any decision on the relocation of these utility services does not impact on our schedule and the provision of services to the local community.

“Seymour Whyte are confident that I can manage such a huge responsibility on a multi-million dollar project, which is something that I am proud of”, Caitlin said.

 “Witnessing the project evolve over time; and looking back at the progress we’ve made is really fulfilling. Coming up with the solution to solve design issues is always the highlight of my job and what keeps me motivated”, she added.

Caitlin believes the key to the success of this project has been the ability to identify issues before they arise and collaborating openly with utility experts to find a solution.
Caitlin says that the ability to solve complex problems before they arise, and being able to build relationships based on trust is an attribute that employers are looking for in candidates.

Caitlin was employed by Seymour Whyte after completing three months of industrial experience in her final year of university and has remained a valuable team member since completing her Civil Engineering Degree, gaining the NSW Department of Commerce Work Experience Prize for her excellence in her Industrial Experience Report on her experiences and learnings.

She advises that work experience while studying is the best way to learn and get an insight into the many aspects of engineering.

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