Hardy is passionate about shaping a smarter world using his engineering skills. He spoke to us about the challenges of being a graduate engineer and his positive experiences on the committee.
What was your inspiration for becoming a structural engineer? And did you always know that is what you were going to do?
I have a strong maths and physics background, so engineering was always the obvious career direction for me. The strong correlation between engineering and its positive impact on our day-to-day lives was exactly the reason why I chose to study civil and structural engineering at the University of Adelaide. I now find myself with a rewarding career because the projects I work on benefit communities in many ways. We help create infrastructure that can directly change the way people live – for example, smarter transport infrastructure provides a safer and faster way of commuting so people can spend more time with loved ones, while sustainable building structures give us a better place to live and work.
Are there any exciting projects you have worked on so far?
Two of my main responsibilities at work are structural design and inspection at multiple mining sites in South Australia. Working in the mining industry means I get exposed to work on a large variety of mining, processing, and production structures. I also have many opportunities to travel to remote areas or mining camps. My last site inspection trip was very interesting. I went deep underground about 670m to inspect a load chute, which is where the mining truck dumps all the ore excavated underground onto a train that carries the material to the ground. It took about 30 minutes for us to drive down along the underground tunnel. I was amazed by how the underground tunnels and facilities are engineered to ensure adequate stability and ventilation. It is even more fascinating to have internet signal down there. This is just another bit of proof that engineering is everywhere.
What are some of the challenges for graduate engineers?
I believe that the major challenge graduate engineers face is not having the courage and skills to have a productive and honest conversation with their managers to talk about their jobs and career. As graduates are new to the workplace, when we have any feedback or suggestions we want to provide to our managers, it is easy for us to keep the matters to ourselves to avoid potential confrontation or any uncomfortable feelings. For example, some graduates I know feel the work they are assigned does not match their interest and others feel they are not getting enough support from more senior colleagues. It is important to address any negative thoughts by having open communication with our managers. While it certainly takes years for professionals to master the art of workplace communication, having the courage to initiate an uncomfortable conversation for feedback and suggestions is certainly a good start.
Why is it important to you to volunteer on the Young Engineers Australia South Australia committee?
I enjoy my experience volunteering on the committee because I can network with other like-minded early professionals and develop my communication and organisation skills. I also get to make a positive impact on the young professional community by helping my peers connect with the right people. My volunteer position at YEA helps me recognise that I am a passionate and proactive leader in the community who is eager to make changes. Volunteering also provides me with the opportunity to continue my engagement with Engineers Australia after my volunteering journey as a student.
What advice do you have for other young engineers?
My advice to my early professional peers is to be proactive and engaged with Engineers Australia. Engineers Australia hosts multiple educational webinars and local networking sessions throughout the year, which are very good opportunities for you to learn the latest news in the industry and meet the leaders in the profession. You can also apply to participate in a large variety of technical and non-technical societies where you can truly have a voice and make a change to our profession. Being proactive during Engineers Australia events opens the door to opportunities to develop your professionalism and connect with other like-minded people.