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 Tips for up and coming engineers

Let me start by saying that being an engineer is an incredibly rewarding yet demanding career choice.

As ‘corny’ as it sounds, you will make a real difference in people’s lives, and as cliché as this sounds, ‘engineers really do make ‘it’ happen’.

Unfortunately when you’re first starting out, it can be an incredibly daunting and frustrating time for a young engineer, so here are five tips for my ‘brethren’ beginning their engineering journey.

  1. For A Short Period of Time It’s Going To Hurt

Graduating with a degree in engineering is an accomplishment in and of itself. Unfortunately the reality is that your degree is essentially a piece of paper that verifies you know how to use a calculator and chew gum at the same time.

Of course I am being facetious, but the end of your degree is actually the first step on a very long road ahead. You need to accept that for the first three to five years you will be confused and shrouded in self-doubt, constantly second guessing yourself as you struggle to make sense of the monumental amount of information you will be asked to absorb and comprehend.

Fight through that self-doubt. You’re going to be fine.

Grit your teeth, keep your eyes and ears open, commit to your growth, focus on your development and absorb as much as you can as quickly as you can, and before you know it you will have set the foundations of your career.

  1. Site Experience, Site Experience, Site Experience

In case it wasn’t emphasised enough, you’ve got to get site experience. It is unbelievable how important working in the field can be. Get on site and get dirty. For the first six months to a year, work as a labourer if you must, it doesn’t matter, just get out there. Site work will give you incredible insight that an office environment simply can’t, plus it will enable you to think beyond the numbers and formulas and expose you to factors and parameters you won’t learn from a text book.

  1. A Strong Work Ethic Is Mandatory

As an engineer, you will encounter countless variations of never ending problems from demanding clients that set ‘yesterday’ deadlines in an industry where competition grows exponentially, thanks to the wonders of ever changing technology.

There is simply too much information to process, and of course there never is enough time, so believe me when I tell you that 9-5 won’t cut it. Success requires early starts and late finishes, so forget about looking at your watch and repeat this mantra over and over:

  1. Modern Tech is A Double Edge Sword So Measure Twice Cut Once

One of the great things about modern engineering is the vast number of advanced tools we have at our disposal. Computers and modern technology have allowed us to tackle complex problems, communicate big ideas and share results faster and more efficiently than ever before.

In fact this piece was typed on a laptop connected to the internet via my Australian mobile phone connected to the Chinese network whilst sitting in a bullet train travelling at 305km/hr heading to Shenzhen to meet with Chinese engineering colleagues to discuss new concrete and steel technology.

Unfortunately, surrounded by all the modern tools, an engineer can become lazy and too trusting of the solution on the screen. Whether it’s a complex FEM program or a simple spreadsheet, you must develop a full and comprehensive understanding of the input ‘language’ to properly interpret the output results.

Do not rush to the keyboard before first developing your understanding of engineering philosophy and a ‘feel’ for the numbers.

My advice is simple, respect technology, don’t be afraid to use it, but apply a healthy dose of scepticism when reviewing the output file, and if it doesn’t ‘feel’ right, then check it with a hand calculation. Then check it again.

  1. Money Money Money Money Money

Do not let money be the main factor which determines the course of your career, because when you’re starting out, you will not be impressed by your pay cheque.

Don’t worry about money during the early stages.

First choose the branch/sector of your engineering discipline which most interests you, then focus on developing your skills and technical abilities.

It’s no secret or special advice, love your job and it won’t feel like work, and before you know it your knowledge base and ‘abilities’ will start expanding exponentially and you will become more ‘valuable’ to an organisation.

That’s when you start seeing the bigger numbers and that’s when other options start to appear.

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Connected Vehicle: The Future of Transportation

What is a connected vehicle?

In general, the term ‘Connected Vehicle’ is used to broadly identify any ‘smart vehicle’ with:

  • wireless connectivity to the Internet
  • local network or the Cloud
  • other vehicles
  • personal communication devices
  • roadside infrastructure
  • control centres for real-time communication or exchange of data.

Benefits of Connected Vehicles

  • reduce the number of fatalities
    and serious casualties caused by
    road crashes
  • reduce the costs associated with
    road trauma
  • reduce traffic congestion
  • improve productivity in road
    infrastructure use
  • reduce the environmental impacts
    of road transport, through less
    emissions and fuel use

Source: https://www.mainroads.wa.gov.au

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Could seaweed be the solution to our growing plastic problem?

David Christian, founder of Evoware certainly thinks so. Evoware is a socially responsible enterprise that elevates an environmentally friendly lifestyle and provides innovative value to urban society. Their mission is to create innovative solutions from seaweed to solve plastic waste issue, while increasing the livelihood of Indonesia’s seaweed farmers.

Why they do what they do

Environmental Issues

  • Indonesia is the world’s second biggest plastic waste contributor to the ocean
  • 90% of plastic waste go into the ocean; 70% of that waste comes from food and beverage packaging
  • There will be more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050
  • 25% of fish in Indonesian market are contaminated by plastic

Seaweed Farmer Issues

  • A large volume of seaweed production is not used/oversupply
  • Most seaweed farmers are poor due to a long marketing chain and loan sharks
  • 5 of the 6 poorest provinces in Indonesia are actually producing seaweed

Check their site here: evoware.id

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Zaha Hadid Architects and ETH Zurich develop knitted concrete system

A double-curved concrete shell made with a 3D-knitted formwork in a collaboration between Zaha Hadid Architects and ETH Zurich has gone on display in Mexico City.

KnitCret is a new 3D-knitted textile system for creating curving concrete structures, without the need for expensive and time-consuming moulds.

The colourful pavilion is called KnitCandela in homage to the work of Spanish-Mexican architect and engineer Félix Candela, who created dramatic curved concrete shells in his buildings such as the Los Manantiales Restaurant in 1958.

Over two miles of yarn was knitted into four strips of between 15 and 26 metres in just 36 hours using a digital fabrication technique, then flown over from Switzerland to Mexico in suitcases.

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World’s longest sea crossing bridge opens in China

The Hongkong-Zhuhai-Macoa bridge is now officially open. The bridge is 55-km long. It consists of a 22.9-km main bridge and a 6.7-km underground tunnel.  Surface area of the bridge is 700,000 square meters. It’s about the size of 98 standard football fields. Its main girders are made up of 420,000 tons of steel plates. The weight is equal to about 60 Eiffel Towers. It has the world’s longest immersed tube highway tunnel. The rubes reach a depth of up to 40 meters underwater. The bridge is curved as its piers are placed in the direction of water flow.

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Car-free, more livable cities

Car-free, more livable cities

Here are 3 cities that have banned cars with amazing results.

  • Ljubljana, Slovenia – The streets in this city are filled with chatting pedestrians rather than traffic. If you live in the centre, you must park in a garage outside the car-free area. And if you’re elderly, disabled or a mother with children, you get free rides in electric taxis. Business and tourism have increased since the ban more than 10 years ago.
  • Pontevedra, Spain – This city banned cars 19 years ago. 70% of trips in the town are now on foot. And because the town is more livable, 12,000 people have moved into the centre. And air pollution has decreased by 61% since 2013.
  • Copenhagen – This city has over 96,000 square metres of car-free space. Two thirds of people commute by bike. And from 2019, it plans to ban new diesel cars to make its air even cleaner.

Our cities here in Australia should adapt this wonderful initiative. What do you reckon?

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Least stressful cities in the world

Germany has the least stressful cities in the world. German cities have a large number of green spaces, low levels of traffic, and high levels of wealth. Four German cities make the top 10 of chilled out cities and Stuttgart is the most stress-free city on the planet. Sydney was the only non-European city to feature. With the rest of the top 10 made up by:

  • Graz, Austria
  • Edinburgh, UK
  • Bordeaux, France
  • Bern, Switzerland
  • Luxembourgh

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Water pipe turbines generating clean energy

American cities are putting turbines in water pipes to generate clean energy with zero environmental impact. In Portland, water mainly comes from the surrounding mountains. Gravity forces the water down the pipes, spinning the turbines and creating a source of clean energy under the ground. Because gravity is the force that moves the water, no extra energy needs to be used. Riverside, California is also installing turbines in water pipes. They generate enough energy during the day to power the water system itself and at night the turbines keep the street lights on.

Portland has installed turbines in 15 metres of pipes as a trial at a cost of 1.7 million dollars. They generate around 1,100 megawatt-hours of electricity every year. Enough to power about 150 homes and cut back on the use of polluting fossil fuels.

Should Australian cities install turbines in its water pipes too?

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Top 10 tallest buildings in the world in 2020

In 2020, the 10 tallest buildings in the world will all be outside of the USA! China and the Middle East are taking over power in the world. These countries are showing their power by buildings skyscrapers and towers that dwarf the former tallest buildings in the world like the Empire State Building and the World Trade Center in New York City and Willis Tower in Chicago.

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The Netherlands has built the world’s first bike path made from recycled plastic

Stretching a short 30 meters (100 feet) in the northeastern city of Zwolle, the two-lane bike path’s surface is paved with the equivalent of a half-million plastic bottle caps and promises to be two to three more times durable than run-of-the-mill asphalt. Although impervious to potholes and cracks, if the path is heavily damaged or falls into disrepair, it can easily be removed and recycled again.

It’s the first of a small handful of pilot projects from PlasticRoad, a nascent road-building technology venture spearheaded by Dutch civil engineering firm KWS in partnership with plastic pipe-maker Wavin and France-headquartered gas and oil mega-company Total.

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The Ocean Cleanup

The ocean is big. Cleaning up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch using conventional methods – vessels and nets – would take thousands of years and tens of billions of dollars to complete. Our passive systems are estimated to remove half the Great Pacific Garbage patch in just five years, and at a fraction of the cost. Our first cleanup system will be deployed in the summer of 2018. This is how it works.

More information: https://www.theoceancleanup.com/technology/

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