Mechanical Engineer at Beca
Bachelor of Engineering - Mechanical Engineering, 2017
Engineering A Sustainable Future.
Just one year into his engineering career, Harry Gibson’s role with Beca has seen him working on a huge range of clients and projects, from food and beverage to mining and wastewater. Harry was attracted to engineering because of the potential it has to help transform the world. “There’s a huge focus on things like sustainability and future-proofing. Our mission is to benefit the environment and minimise our global footprint.”
You’re a very recent grad – what are you up to these days?
It’s been a crazy year since graduation. I’m employed by Beca, which is one of the largest employee-owned engineering professional services firms operating throughout Asia-Pacific. In the year I’ve been out, it’s been an absolute rollercoaster ride in terms of the projects I’ve worked on. It’s amazing to think it’s only been a year because it feels like I’ve had so much experience already!
What sorts of projects have you been involved in?
Where do I even start? In my role, I work with industrial clients from a range of market sectors. I’ve worked with clients in mining and metals, food and beverage, pulp and paper, chemicals and manufacturing, and water and wastewater. In the space of a year, I’ve had huge exposure to a range of industries.
What does your role entail?
As a mechanical engineer with a particular focus on anything industrial, my role involves design, analysis and investigative work. When a client comes to us with a technical problem we work with them to develop a solution. I also do project management work and help put together construction contracts and tender documents.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
The exciting thing about my job is that when people ask me what I actually do, I struggle to tell them! It changes every day. I love it. It sounds cliché but when it comes to a Friday, I can’t wait to get back to work on a Monday.
How has your degree translated to ‘real world’ work?
The real value from a degree at UC is that there’s a huge amount of industry involvement. Before I’d even applied for my job, I already knew some of the people I’d be working with. You do practical and professional hours as part of your degree so by my final year I already had boots-on-the-ground experience, working as a contractor. It’s a degree that really sets you up for success. Once you finish, you can hit the ground running.
What are you most passionate about in engineering?
As a society, we’re coming into a new era. There’s a lot of focus on things like sustainability and future proofing. When people think ‘industrial’, they usually think ‘dirty’. But we’re shifting our focus so we can benefit the environment and minimise our global impact. At Beca, I’ve also had a lot of involvement with emerging technologies and how we can apply them to help our clients. Being at the forefront of a new trend is really exciting.
It sounds like engineering has the potential to have a huge positive impact!
Absolutely. The whole reason I did engineering was because I wanted to have a purpose and help change the world for the better. Not to be biased towards engineering, but I don’t think many people can say they’ve helped design a wastewater treatment facility that will positively influence an entire city. Engineering really does have the power to transform the world.
What was your favourite accomplishment at UC?
It’s not what you do on paper, it’s the opportunities you get to be part of at UC that are most valuable. In my final year I was part of a student team that built a high performance electric race car which we competed with in Melbourne, representing UC. An opportunity like that doesn’t happen everyday. But overall, the best thing was developing a professional network before I’d even gotten a job. New Zealand’s a small place, and you’ll bump into the same people throughout your career. So relationships are everything.
Beyond your job, you’re a volunteer ambassador too?
I volunteer with an Engineering New Zealand programme called Futureintech. It’s an initiative which aims to expose school students to STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and maths. As part of that I go into schools and talk about my career. I try to inspire students who might not have thought of STEM as an option. I’m also mentoring a group of high school students who are building an electric go-kart, which fits perfectly with my own experience!
You’re still early into your career. Long term, what would you like to achieve?
I’d like to make a lasting impact in the industry, in New Zealand and overseas. I want to work with clients on projects, and be able to stand back at the end and say, “wow, look at what we’ve done to help the world”. It’s that sense of making a difference that motivates me. It’s why I do what I do.