The Journey of a Young Engineer

posted May 8, 2022, 6:13 PM by jeffery jim

This is a story of a young bridge engineer whom I have known for more than three years. I got to know Awang when we was doing his industrial training under project delivery partner while I was the resident engineer for a highway project. He studied at International Islamic University Malaysia and at that time I am surprised and taken aback as this is my first encounter with civil engineering undergraduates from such university. Nevertheless, I don't have any bias except for curiosity about his ability to cope as he is not from universities with great background in engineering.

2. He was a bit reserved and since he is not directly under my apprenticeship, I cannot work much with him. There is a restriction to bond with him directly as he was attached to another party in a construction project. Although such restriction is a hindrance to me to mentor him directly, I keep our relationship cordial. Despite of his reserved outlook, Awang is a wise young adult who work around with opportunities to learn new things. At free time, he will spend more time with the consultant design team and learn almost everything he can with two other fellow undergraduates from University Malaysia Sabah. He knows what he want and he works on things he want.

3. Like most undergraduates undergoing industrial training, it seems like a good opportunity to capitalized on free labor for a couple of months. However, there are caveats for this kind of arrangement so that both parties can benefit at the end of the day. Initially, Awang supposed to gain experience by visiting site and getting familiarized with construction terms and drawings but under my apprenticeship, I took it to another level.
The first few weeks, I gauged the overall capacity of all three undergraduates including Awang. During this period, they are exposed to pressures - physical load and mental load. Somehow they endured and shown me their resilience and grit; they passed all subliminal gauging procedures in a week.

4. With the right mind, Awang was sent to site and conduct all kind of geotechnical and field test under the hot sun and even when it rains. He and the rest pushed through without smile. Deep inside, that sort of smile renders a very clear sign of satisfaction. After almost a month exposed to all sort of tests at site and also laboratory, they entered into a new phase where they are treated as junior engineers. They were given tasks related to quality assurance instead of quality control. They have mastered the art of quality control in the first five weeks. At this stage, they are challenged to prepare method statements for all laboratory works based on standards specifications from contract document and collections of Malaysia Standard, British Standard and Eurocodes.

5. Their attachment came to an end when they completed their 3 months industrial training requirement. They start to compose their report and to their surprise, there are too much to write. I look and chuckled behind them and told them that I don't need to read their report. I will sign off their log book; satisfied.

6. Awang still come to our project site on his free time during semester break and learn new things that was not done during his short stint. He graduated and I did ask him about his decision for not working in own brother's consulting firm. He took his liberty and focus on his objective to work and learn under the capacity of contractor's site engineer. After graduation, Awang finally found a job as engineer to supervise a huge building. After sometime, he gave up and quit his job there.

7. I met Awang at my site and he is looking for opportunity to work with the contractor of my project. He lamented to me that he don't see he is progressing much in his previous project and wonder if he could continue in the project which he was involved. Finally, he got his opportunity to continue in the project where he completed his industrial training. This time, he is assigned to the bridge department which is my forte. I grin at him and tell him not to worry. I am confident with him.

8. He started as bridge engineer who does a lot of paperwork and documentation. At this stage, design check, clarification and setting out have just taken place and physical works have yet to start. Slowly, he got involved with construction and site issues. Imagine their department have to build 11 bridges and they are in a small group of 3 engineers. Awang got his opportunity and was given two bridges; single span interchange and twin span long major fly. Despite of his young age and close to three years experience, he is now leading both bridges on challenging terrain and high traffic flow.

9. This story about Awang as a young bridge engineer is an exceptional example for youths who have just entered their professional career. Behind his reserved display, he is an extremely wise young man. He crafted his career path before he graduated and chartered his way to initial success. He kept his composure as things did not go according to plan and then recover as his tenacity and persistence for success is beyond word.

As for the two other undergraduates from UMS - Asri and Angelia; they are successful as well. Asri have close to 3 years experience and now is the Assistant Resident Engineer, while Angelia is a structure engineer at Singapore. These three are my pride and seeing them around excel through every engineering obstacles and challenges bring joy to me.

10. I will write more stories about young engineers if I have the time.

May be an image of 8 people and outdoors