Rebecca Liao – 2023 Student Award winner

Studying civil engineering and music at the University of Auckland, Rebecca Liao is one of three 2023 ACE New Zealand Student Award winners. We caught up with her to find out more about why she chose to go into engineering and a day in the life as a grad.

Rebecca, you worked for Pattle Dalamore Partners (PDP) as an environmental engineer. What was it like?  

I enjoyed my time at PDP not only because of the environmental projects I was involved in but also the working environment. Everyone in the office is super friendly and willing to help, which significantly reduced a lot of my pressure and nerves as an intern in the company. 

I was able to apply what I had learned at uni to real-life problems. I learnt about the wastewater treatment process and its importance in the function of society. I was able to attend client meetings where I gained a lot of confidence communicating with stakeholders and contractors.  

I got the opportunity to attend the client’s meeting to gain confidence in communicating with stakeholders and contractors. I got to observe the wastewater treatment facilities in an industrial factory, which gave me a big picture of how the design turned into construction and operation. Furthermore, I learnt about design, tender and construction documents that we use and frequently produce as engineers.  

Why did you apply for the Student Award?  

I was encouraged to apply by the university after I submitted my report. I saw it as a validation of my commitment to producing exceptional work, and it further fueled my drive to excel.  

Why did you decide to study engineering?  

Engineering allows me to see behind the curtain how our society functions on a daily basis.  

Civil engineers play a crucial role in shaping the world around us, from designing transportation systems and bridges to creating sustainable buildings and water supply networks. I want to be part of a team that uses engineering solutions to contribute to our society and improve our living quality while protecting our environment.  

Also, with the current world challenges of overpopulation and climate change. I want to be part of the next generation of engineers who have innovative ideas and can develop sustainable solutions, and design and build resilient infrastructure to withstand future challenges.  

What kind of job do you want to get?  

My career aspirations are deeply aligned with my passion for engineering, specifically in the realms of water and environmental engineering. I want to be a valuable member of a consultant team that is at the forefront of using sustainable and innovative designs to creatively resolve issues that impact our environment. I hope to contribute my skills and knowledge to projects that focus on water resource management, pollution control, and sustainable infrastructure development.  

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time professionally?  

I want to learn as much as possible, both professional and soft skills, from both school and as a graduate in the company in the next few years. In five years’ time, I want to be able to say that I am a civil engineer, in which I can make a major contribution to some challenging but rewarding projects, achieve the best outcome for both the company, clients and the community.  

I also would like to see myself becoming a project leader leading an actual project that will make a significant contribution to our community.  

What do you like to do in your spare time?  

I love music. In my spare time, I love to play music on my flute and piano. I also enjoy walking on the beach with my friends and family, and painting and sketching in the studio.