No one day is the same for Port Taranaki engineer Bridget Harrison.
One of only two female engineers with a technical role in New Zealand ports (the other, Ingrid De Bod, is also here at Port Taranaki), Bridget can be found working anywhere around the port – under wharves, inspecting buildings, bollards or roads, up cranes or out in the rain looking at stormwater outlets. Wherever there’s an engineering problem that needs a solution, Bridget is there.
What does your role involve?
“I have a technical role that covers a wide range of engineering disciplines. We have big machines, heavy loads, a lot of infrastructure and wild weather. I’m problem-solving every day.
“As a civil engineer, I look after the port’s infrastructure. Right now, the focus is on stormwater. I also assess loads from heavy vehicles and lead our pavement designs. I conduct condition assessments of our wharf structures, pipelines, pavements, and buildings. Last year, I inspected the emergency exit staircase inside Paritutu chimney – New Zealand’s second highest building at 198m tall. That’s something you don’t get to do every day!”
What do you like about your role?
“I love the variety. There’s always a problem to solve.
“This year, we received wind turbine blades and other components for the Waipipi and Turitea windfarms. I developed the lift plans to move the Waipipi components from vessel to transporter.
“When you’re lifting out of the hold of a vessel, with two cranes sitting on a piled wharf and at 90% capacity, there’s a fair amount that can go wrong. We offloaded more than 250 items and carried out 80+ twin crane lifts, and the guys made it look easy.”
What are the challenges?
“Sometimes, the right technical solution isn’t the ideal solution for port operations or commercial. The challenge is to find a balance between all the teams who are affected and find a solution that everyone can support.”