Monique Geraghty

GradIEAust

Structural Engineer

Northrop Consulting Engineers

Monique Geraghty graduated with a Bachelor of Civil Engineering from the University of Newcastle in 2014. She has since been working as a Structural Engineer with Northrop Consulting Engineers designing and managing a large range of projects from small residential alterations and additions to large scale designer homes and industrial warehouses.

How long have you been a member of Engineers Australia?
I joined EA in 2011 while at university and became involved with Young Engineers Newcastle until I graduated and joined the Central Coast Engineers Australia committee.

Why did you pursue a career in engineering?
I had no idea what I wanted to do upon leaving school and initially started studying Radiography. I soon realised this wasn’t for me and went back to the drawing board to work out what I really enjoyed doing. I’d always loved problem solving and Mensa style puzzles throughout my childhood, so I started looking for careers where this was the foundation. Structural engineering and the way buildings are put together is fascinating and I saw the potential to put my love of problem solving to the test daily.

It certainly hasn’t disappointed!

How can Australian communities/people/society benefit from your work now and in the future?
The structures that we have a role in creating benefit their users every single day! It’s always so rewarding when I have the opportunity to look at projects when they are completed and up and running. The types of projects I have worked on and have had the pleasure of seeing with their end-users enjoying include: beautiful beachfront houses, cafés and restaurants; multi-storey apartment buildings; factory alterations, service stations and commercial warehouses – to name a few.

The way we live and work is constantly changing and evolving, so it will be interesting to be a part of this shift into the future.

What is the most challenging or interesting project you’ve ever worked on to date?
Large architecturally designed homes that really push the boundaries of structural design take the cake here. One particularly challenging (but extremely rewarding) project was a three-storey clifftop home overlooking Avoca Beach on the NSW Central Coast.

Each room that fronted the ocean had floor to ceiling windows and doors and the structure was braced using rammed earth walls. While it’s a stunning house, each time I drive past it I’m reminded of the challenges we came across over the two years that it was in construction.

What do you see as one of the biggest issues facing the engineering profession?
The integration and use of technology and powerful software tools! There are two sides to this issue. On one hand it’s great that the engineering and drafting software can speak with the architectural software and building services, and that consultant documents can be managed and incorporated electronically. But on the other hand, we face the risk of losing the human element and good old-fashioned face-to-face service.
Assessing and developing how this affects the way we work, build relationships with clients and deliver projects will certainly be a challenge.

What excites you about the future of the profession or what opportunities do you see for the future?
Gender diversity is a huge topic at the moment! The number of women coming into the profession and the huge push towards STEM in schools and universities is very exciting; the best thing we can do for the future of engineering is to keep encouraging young women to pursue careers in engineering if that is where their interest lies.

Who is your engineering hero?
I work with and have come across so many fantastic engineers so far in my career, it’s difficult to choose just one!
My entire family are creative, but my grandfathers in particular, while not engineers per se, were incredibly practical and innovative and have always been an inspiration. They lived through times where they didn’t have access to the huge range of cheap and disposable consumables and products that we see today. They worked with the tools and products they had to mend, adapt, change and build things that lasted. It’s a mindset and motivation that I’d really like to see the industry as a whole return to.

Image source: courtesy of Monique Geraghty