Staff profile – Serah Dowdell

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Serah Dowdell is a Student Engineer who started at Council in September. Serah is currently completing her thesis in addition to her internship at Council, investigating building standards and codes within the Greater Sydney Metropolitan Area and bushfire safety guidelines.

What is your role here at Council?

My main focus is on civil and environmental engineering, but it’s a really mixed role and I help out wherever I can. That’s the best part of the job – getting exposure to a whole range of things.

My role is mostly helping Johan Ten Hoedt with land surveying, but I also do a lot in the Design team and the Road and Traffic team.

What kind of things have you been working on?

There are a couple of really interesting tasks I’m working on with Daniel Sui including a design for electric vehicle charging bays in Chatswood and some ideas for the Rohan Street intersection in Naremburn.

I’m also working with Aston Pei with designing a car park for Holly St, Castle Cove and a few other small jobs.

What got you into engineering?

When I finished high school, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I decided I didn’t want to waste four years of my life getting a degree I wasn’t going to use, so I went overseas for 12 years and travelled.

After travelling, I wanted to change the world and I had big plans. Someone suggested I should be an engineer. I got into environmental and civil engineering and really enjoyed it.

What has your learning experience at Council been like so far?

My learning philosophy is to take in everything you can and learn as much as possible.

At Council, everyone is readily available to help me and show me the ropes. If I’m asked to do something I don’t know how to do, they’ll take the time to show me. I really appreciate that I have the opportunity to give things a go and I can ask for help when I need it.

Have you had any interesting learning moments so far?

It’s been really exciting to see things I’ve learnt from other experiences in a new light.

I worked in construction for the last three years, so I’ve done the on-the-ground stuff. It’s really interesting to see how the data we receive while surveying is put into practice on the design side of things.

What would you like to learn next as a student engineer?

It’s really important for my career to learn all the industry standard software, such as AutoCAD.

I’m also really interested in Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and how it’s used within Council. I’ll harass some people to get experience in how it’s utilised in local government soon!

What’s next for you?

Next up for me is finishing my thesis. After that, I’d like to do a Masters in spatial analysis – I really do like surveying and GIS. I think you can use it for a lot of different things.

I’d like to continue working on a local level in my career, so I can see what my work is doing and who it’s helping.

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