Cassandra Mai

GradIEAust

Process Engineer, Water

WSP

Cassandra Mai is an inspiring and energetic water professional with a drive and passion to connect and empower thriving communities for future generations. As a Process Engineer in WSP’s Water team, she is delivering water, recycled water and wastewater treatment projects across Australia. In her role as Chair of the Young Engineers Australia QLD for 2020, Cassandra will be advocating for young engineering professionals in shaping a brighter future.

How long have you been a member of Engineers Australia?
I became a member of Engineers Australia in my first year of university in 2013 and have been a member ever since.

Why did you pursue a career in engineering?
My high school maths teacher first planted the seed of engineering, however my dad seemed to disagree with it. At the time, I didn’t have any engineering role models nor did it even cross my mind. My idea of engineering was that it was all maths and boy was I wrong about that. I was determined to prove my dad wrong and show him that females can succeed in a typically male dominated field.

I am passionate about enhancing the liveability and enriching the quality of life for communities today and in the future. This has driven me to pursue a career in engineering and specifically to work within the water sector.

I’m an active champion of diversity and change amongst engineering professionals to encourage better outcomes for our community, by challenging innovation and collaborating.

How can Australian communities/people/society benefit from your work now and in the future?
Water is one of our most important natural resources, and necessary for life to exist. It directly affects all living creatures and our environment on a global scale. As a process engineer in the water industry, I help develop sustainable solutions for drinking water and wastewater treatment for communities across Australia. I help to protect our natural resources and environment both now and in the future.

I believe I can contribute in a meaningful way to help everyone gain access to this essential resource and service, aligning to the Sustainable Development Goal 6.

What is the most challenging or interesting project you’ve ever worked on?
The Westconnex Rozelle Interchange water treatment plant in Sydney has been one of the most challenging projects I’ve worked on so far. The WestConnex is described as the largest transport project in Sydney and Australia since the Harbour Bridge. The multidisciplinary and multifaceted components of the project, beyond the water treatment plant, were extraordinary and eye opening. I’ve enjoyed learning from many people across disciplines and being a part of shaping our future cities and communities.

What do you see as one of the biggest issues facing the engineering profession?
One of the biggest issues is raising awareness and encouraging more students into STEM, whilst maintaining retention in university and the engineering workplace. Case in point was if it weren’t for my high school maths teacher, it’s hard for me to believe that I’d be an engineer today. If we’re serious about the future of engineering, then we need to build the engineers of today. In my role as Chair of the Young Engineers Australia QLD for 2020 I hope that we can work on engaging more diversity of thought across our profession for the engineers of tomorrow.

What excites you about the future of the profession or what opportunities do you see for the future?
The world is constantly changing and we as engineers must adapt. We need to collaboratively find resilient and sustainable solutions for some of the most complex problems in our communities and for future generations.

Who is your engineering hero?
Turia Pitt – humanitarian, athlete, author, motivationalist and mining engineer. While competing in a 100 km ultra-marathon, she encountered an out of control grassfire and suffered burns across her body. She has reshaped my thinking and fully inspired me to have the right mindset in order to truly achieve anything. Is that not just the essence of what engineering is all about?

Image courtesy: Cassandra Mai.