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Rachel Harrison with Phil Read from Calibre.

Young engineer designs sustainable environmental solution

Media Release: 28 November 2014

Rachel Harrison is young, talented and passionate about her work as an engineer, designing solutions to protect the environment.

Rachel was tasked with designing a new stormwater system to prevent flooding in the Porirua Station commuter carpark, and to remove contaminants from runoff before it enters the Porirua Stream. This was part of a larger project that Calibre Consulting Ltd (formerly Spiire NZ Ltd) was involved with to extend the Porirua carpark for the client, Greater Wellington Rail Ltd (a subsidiary of the Greater Wellington Regional Council).

Rachel decided this would be a great project for the final year of her Bachelor of Engineering Technology at the Wellington Institute of Technology (WelTec). “Civil Engineers have an important role to play minimising the impact of urban development on our environment such as stopping contaminated water polluting our waterways. It’s really satisfying investigating a problem, designing a solution and seeing it built,” says Rachel, whose stormwater pipework installation will be completed in the New Year.

As a secondary school student at St Mary’s College in Wellington, Rachel enjoyed technical problem solving, and with a family history of Engineers, it was “very natural” to carry on and study engineering. Firstly she gained the New Zealand Diploma in Engineering, and then went on to complete her Bachelor of Engineering Technology, having just finished this month. Rachel has worked for Calibre Consulting Ltd for 7 years, having joined the company as a cadet while completing her Diploma.

“I am keen on engineering because of my interest in solving problems and contributing to environmental protection. Engineering allows you to be creative, use your design skills and to work to solve real-world problems,” says Rachel.

The stormwater improvements will reduce the risk of flooding in the Porirua carpark, while minimising the contaminants associated with vehicle use entering the Porirua Stream. The final design also incorporates the need to keep ongoing maintenance costs to a minimum, and to maximise utilisation of the redeveloped area.

Phil Read, Rachel’s Team Leader at Calibre says of her work, “One of Rachel’s strengths is her drive to produce sound engineering designs that are ‘right’ and conform to current engineering standards. It’s this ‘getting it right’ attitude that I think flows through to her looking for ways to include sustainable design elements into her engineering solutions that will have a low impact on the environment and the end users.”

Bob McGrath (Rachel’s engineering tutor at WelTec) says, “Rachel’s work exemplifies the attributes of our graduates, notably technical excellence and the development of practical solutions to everyday problems”.

Rachel’s work is one of the incredible range of projects being showcased as part of the final year projects by WelTec Bachelor of Engineering students at WelTec’s Petone campus on Monday 1 December between 2pm and 8pm.

Other projects students have worked in have resulted in better tasting beer, a hydrogen fuelled hob, a device which sieves fossils from rock samples, modern train signals for KiwiRail, developing a screen which assists the Kaitoke Intake to extract significantly more litres of water per day.