Mitchell Vranjes Profiles

Meet Mitchell Vranjes at the CDES Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths Expo!

Wesley Bell

  • Graduate
  • Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) - Civil and Environmental Engineering

Did your career plans change as you studied?
In first year, we were exposed to all the disciplines and I was keen on Mechatronics and Chemical and Materials Engineering - civil was one of those things I was kind of interested in. You know, loved Lego as a kid. I found civil intriguing, but I wasn’t really sure what it entailed.

Through doing the courses I realised I wanted a job where I can be in the office as well as spend a decent portion of time out on site, which I didn’t think you’d get with the other two options. Then a family friend who was a Structural Engineer, encouraged me to spend a few days with him watching what he did day-to-day, and I thought, yeah, this is what I want to do.

During my second and third years I was quite keen on doing contracting, perhaps as a Site Manager or Project Manager. Then I watched as a friend spent his summer working horrendous hours. That lead me to thinking that maybe I’ll try my hand at consulting in one of the larger firms that everyone hears about – AECOM, Beca, Opus. In my third year I was offered a summer research opportunity involved with testing the cyclic response of bridge abutments and I really enjoyed it. I considered furthering my studies, but I was really keen to get into the workplace and apply what I had learnt. I applied at various consultancies – massive companies that do cool projects but both offers were out of Auckland. Then I heard about Mitchell Vranjes (MV) through a family friend. I didn’t know anything about the company other than it wasn’t a big firm. I had my reservations, but I couldn’t have been further from the truth. I was under the false impression that I needed to be in a big firm to get the cool projects, but I quickly learnt this wasn’t the case.

Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years’ time?
Definitely chartered, managing a team and possibly even the office. I’ll definitely be working on high end projects, not because of the monetary value but because of the intrigue and challenges they offer. Which is what we all aspire to achieve as engineers.

How valuable was your internship or work experience for you as a student? How did this fine tune where you wanted to be?
I did summer research for 5 months which I really enjoyed. It gave me an insight into the amount of time and effort that goes into the development of new technology and procedures which forms the framework for our written standards. And I guess it also made me realise that all that testing and number crunching is important, but it just wasn’t for me – not something I’d enjoy long term.

I remember asking the manager 'am I just doing the steel beams' and he replied – 'don’t be silly, you’re designing the entire building'.

I started interning at MV in July for 6 months, one day a week and during the semester breaks. I think interning whilst I was still studying gave me an appreciation for what we were learning – at uni we do all the assignments and projects, but you don’t properly understand how all the information interconnects – you learn bits and pieces but seeing all that information come together was quite rewarding.

I think it was so valuable because my first project was a full building and I remember asking the manager "am I just doing the steel beams” and he replied – “don’t be silly, you’re designing the entire building”. I thought I’d be doing little bits and pieces like you might do at a large company – I felt like I was thrown in the deep end, and I had to learn fast – sink or swim. It’s ultimately given me a head start in my career which you might not get in a larger firm.

At the end of the day, I didn’t want to feel like a cog in the machine, I wanted to really achieve something and progress my career. Ultimately, Mitchell Vranjes has given me a head start in my career which you might not get in a larger firm, and I will be forever grateful.

Kevin Liu

  • Intern 
  • Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) - Civil and Environmental Engineering

Did your career plans change as you studied?
I have enjoyed learning every aspect of Civil and Environmental Engineering that I have learnt to date. I set my mind to become a Structural Engineer after completing my first year of study at engineering school. Just before year one was about to end, the University hosted a careers evening to help first-year students decide their area of specialisation. I had a conversation with a Structural Engineer, and I asked him why he chose structure. He responded, “There is nothing more satisfying when you drive past a building that’s designed by yourself”. From that moment on, I started to pay more attention to the structural details that can be seen around me. I feel like the more I study structural engineering, the more exciting design details I notice around me. I was therefore convinced that pursuing a structural-related career was the way to go for me.

Where do you see yourself in 5 – 10 years?
I see myself designing my own buildings in the next five years. I have found that designing a building is very challenging but also very interesting. You struggle in the office to make a design work but seeing your design being built on site is also satisfying. Hence, for now, I have every intention of gaining as much design experience as I possibly can and becoming the best engineer I can be.

How valuable was your work experience for you as a student? How did this help you fine-tune where you wanted to head?
Working at Mitchell Vranjes has helped me build a more robust understanding of what I have learnt in class. The hands-on experience has made me realise designing is not only doing calculations on a piece of paper to show the solution works, but being able to consider the practicality of the design and making feasible and cost-effective decisions.