Winnie Lai

Winnie Lai

Assistant Resident Engineer

Country Hong Kong

Specialisms Design, project management

Career highlights

Why I became a civil engineer

I love the feeling of accomplishment when I see what I have been working on. For example 2D drawings being built to become 3D structures and ready for public use is indescribable.

Civil engineers do not only build bridges and structures; there are many “invisible heroes” who specialize in areas such as geotechnical, environmental, energy, water, traffic etc. Our daily lives benefit from their accomplishments.  

Education

I completed my high school education with courses such as Mathematics, Physics and Design and Technology in Canada prior to receiving MEng in Civil Engineering at Imperial College London.

During my university years, I worked as an intern in the Housing Authority and Atkins in Hong Kong and also with the Robin Bird Group in London. 

After graduation, I joined AECOM’s Global Long Span and Specialty Bridges Group in Hong Kong as a Graduate Engineer and worked on various international bridge projects including Gordie Howe International Bridge in Canada/USA and Gok Teik Bridge in Myanmar. Then, I started working on a construction site, Tseung Kwan O – Lam Tin Tunnel which is a dual-two lane highway including associated infrastructures.

My Working Day

I usually begin my day by going through my emails and work-related chat groups to ensure I am up-to-date regarding the current site situation. If any urgent issues appear, especially on-site problems, I will work on those first as it may affect the progress of the project. I will then go through the to-do list which includes design queries, design reports and various submissions from the contractor.

I will work with colleagues from different teams, technical officers and even the contractor to incorporate comments and update drawings.

After lunch, I will check the on-site programme and discuss any possible issues with on-site inspectors. Once all items are identified, I will go to the site for inspection. Not only do I look for technical design problems, I also look for any safety concerns or issues. Without a safe environment, workers are unable to proceed safely and efficiently.

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Civil engineers do not only build bridges and structures; there are many “invisible heroes” who specialize in areas such as geotechnical, environmental, energy, water, traffic etc. Our daily lives benefit from their accomplishments.

Winnie Lai

Assistant Resident Engineer

My Career Inspiration

My inspiration definitely began with Tsing Ma Bridge in Hong Kong; it was the world’s second longest suspension bridge at the time of completion and currently the world’s 14th longest span suspension bridge.

Every time I go to the airport, it is en-route and cannot be missed. I get very excited whenever I travel across it and I take many photos, even though the bridge doesn’t seem to vary each time! It is fascinating to see a structure that can connect two places in mid-air and can carry both vehicles and rails. It also withstands typhoon season without any damage.

What I love about being a Civil Engineer

No two days can ever be the same. Problems keep popping out every day but solutions are also being developed every day.

The civil engineering myth I'd like to bust

That it’s a man’s world. My graduate class has about 40% of females. My current workplace male to female ratio is about 3:1. As the Chairman of the ICE HKA G&S, I lead a team of 11 females out of 28 members.

The project, past or present, I wish I'd worked on

It would have been amazing to work on the construction stage of the Gordie Howe International Bridge. I took part during the preliminary design stage. I grew up in Canada so it’s an honour to show family and friends what civil engineers can accomplish and that I’m part of it.

I want to become a civil engineer.

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