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Women of Inertia – Hannah Qiao

In the lead up to International Women in Engineering Day, we are celebrating the talented team of female engineers & designers here at Inertia.

Hannah Qiao started at Inertia as an intern, but after the three months she became a fully-fledged Inertian, joining the team as a Graduate Civil Engineer.  She currently works across all our civil sections including due diligence of sites, earthworks, roads, sewer, flooding and storm water. Originally from Tianjin, China, Hannah also brings an edge to Inertia by being fluent in Mandarin.

Why did you become an engineer?

The first year of university I studied physiotherapy, but it wasn’t for me. Since I had always been good at maths and problem solving I changed to engineering. It can be pretty daunting trying to figure out what you want to do when you first start studying, but now that I am on the other side, I am very happy with my decision

What do you love about engineering?

I love how logical and practical it is, and I love that you get tangible results from all your work – it gives you a real sense of completion at the end of a project.

What are you working on at the moment?

At the moment I help with a lot of the proposals and research side of things, but I have been working on getting more involved in the technical aspects of the job.

What has been your greatest professional achievement to date?

It has been one year since I officially started my career in the industry, so I am excited about all that is still to come! However, I completed some internships in China which was a fantastic experience. The industry is a lot different over there – the projects are a lot bigger and more fast faced. Personally I enjoy the Australian engineering environment, as it tends to be a bit slower paced but means we have more time to think and come up with the most creative or efficient solution.

What’s the best project you have worked on?

One of my favourite’s has been Siedofsky Street, a 13 lot subdivision in Redbank Plains. I have been working very closely with the client on this project, which is fantastic because we both speak Mandarin as our first language. This has really helped maintain good communication and collaboration between our two teams.

What’s the most useful thing you’ve learned throughout your career?

The most useful thing I have learned is how to learn. By that I mean, taking the initiative to do the research and the extra work necessary to effectively learn new skills. University is good at teaching you the concepts and the theory, but to actually learn things in depth and learn practical skills, you have to go the extra mile.

Who’s the greatest engineer of all time and why?

Calvin Kirk! He is a great leader, and has taught me a lot in my time at Inertia. I am very lucky to be able to learn from him every day.

What do you love about working at Inertia?

Definitely the people and the culture. As a graduate, the whole civil team has been extremely thoughtful, patient and helpful. They often make extra effort to teach me things I may not have been exposed to, and I have learned so much because of this.

What do you hope to achieve in your career over the next decade?

I hope to continue to learn more technical skills and to be exposed to more types of projects, as well as working towards obtaining my RPEQ. As a graduate engineer, I expect there will be a lot of upcoming challenges and a lot to learn. But that’s the fun part of being an engineer, and exactly the reason why I quit my physiotherapist degree and became a Civil Engineer.

What challenges have you had to face in your studies/career?

The change from university to working in the industry is quite daunting as it is a very different environment. This is something that is apparent across many industries, not just engineering. However, everyone is in the same boat, so as long as you make the effort to continue learning after university you’ll adjust to the transition in no time.