Robert Bird Group Graduate Profile
Meet Robert Bird Group at the CDES Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths Expo!
- Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) - Civil Engineering
Did your career plans change as you studied?
My career aspirations definitely changed during my time at university. Upon finishing high school I was quite interested in mechanical engineering. However, during my first year at university I learnt about the devastation caused by the Canterbury earthquakes and became aware of the important role structural engineers played in preventing or mitigating these impacts. I gained a newfound passion for a field of study which was so close and relevant to the context of New Zealand as a seismically active country. Finding my new interest did not mean that my career path search ended there. I still had 3 more years left at university and that was plenty of time to cause my interests to fluctuate. Geomechanics seemed like a very interesting topic as it dealt with highly variable and sometimes difficult to predict ground behaviour which involved getting get out of the office and doing a lot of site investigations.
However, towards the end of my degree, I ended up going with my original passion for structural engineering. I felt that people remembered places for their iconic structures which usually are the first visually recognizable features when travelling anywhere in the world. Structural engineering was the pathway that would keep me as a part of a great community of people who would create these landmarks.
Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years’ time?
After gaining more first-hand experience managing construction and familiarising myself with New Zealand standards and the Building Code, I hope to work with the latest building technologies and design tools available in the future. Being in the workplace is not a lot different from university, in that you are still constantly learning and shaping your career path based upon the jobs you work on and the skills you develop. As a part of mastering and working with the latest design tools in industry, I see myself as specialising in seismic connection designs and overseeing projects which use the most advanced seismic technologies in industry.
How valuable was your internship OR work experience for you as a
student? How did his help you fine-tune where you wanted to head?
Gaining practical work experience was invaluable for me. It is a common joke in the world of engineering to run into someone who knows all the technical theory behind a design but does not realize the physical issues they might encounter during actual build or construction. I have encountered such situations where steel columns and beams for major development projects have been installed upside down or tower cranes have been erected without considering their base supports, causing them to topple over. While this may seem humorous, issues such as these highlight how important it is for someone to be able to actually carry out practical and technical work themselves to realize that common sense is needed and that not everything is governed by theory. I myself was involved in the construction and testing of reinforced concrete walls under seismic loads as a student intern. This fine tuned my understanding of how earthquakes damaged more simpler structures which is what has built my interest to pursue specializing in seismic design in the future.