What is your role in ROD?
I joined ROD as a bridge technician just over a year ago.
Where did you study?
I studied engineering at Tianjin Chengjian University in China, where I majored in electrical engineering and automation. I became interested in design and construction after taking some computer-aided drawing (CAD) classes.
After graduating, I attended a CAD and building information modelling (BIM) school with the intention of moving into drafting. The lecturers at the school were experts in their fields, and a large part of my coursework focused on connecting the theory to live projects. It was a great place to learn my craft.
Was it a difficult decision to move from electrical engineering into drafting?
No. Construction had been booming in China for decades, so any job in a construction-related field, such as design or fabrication, promised a bright future.
Where did you work after graduating?
I worked for three years with an architectural/structural firm in Shanghai, where I was initially responsible for doing general arrangement and mechanical and electrical (M&E) drawings.
Over time, I became involved in some major projects, including a complex of high-rise residential buildings, 29 floors and 96.25m in height, with a total area of 375,500 m2.
Is the approach to work in China similar to Ireland?
In China, I worked twice the number of hours as I do here in Ireland. During busy periods, I would regularly leave the office as late as 11.00 p.m. At the end of the year, however, every employee received a bonus of between one month’s salary and one year’s salary, regardless of their position in the company. The bonus was calculated on the work the employee delivered during the year.
What motivated you to come to Ireland?
I came to Ireland with my boyfriend, Miguel Angel Hidalgo, who is a graduate engineer at ROD. We wanted to advance our careers by working in an English-speaking country and chose Ireland because it is in the European Union (EU) and is an attractive place for immigrants to live and work.
What makes a good technician?
A technician has to be smart. While our job is to convert an engineer’s design into a drawing, our experience, thoughts and ideas are an important part of the process. We need to understand the whole project so we can combine the information correctly to produce a drawing. That is the main reason technicians cannot be replaced by robots – at least not yet!
Do you find your role at ROD challenging?
I am still relatively new in the company, but I am building up my experience one project at a time. While working on the as-built drawings for the A6 Randalstown to Castledawson ECI, for example, I learned about the correct project procedure, the information that needs to be shown on drawings and the inputs of the various disciplines involved in the project.
I had a little more responsibility on the Great Yarmouth Third River Crossing scheme and learned how to communicate more efficiently with my colleagues.
Do you have any female mentors in ROD?
In my view, the gender of a mentor is unimportant - it is the knowledge and experience of the person that matters. My mentor is John O’Driscoll. He is hugely experienced but also patient and willing to help.
Do you plan to return to China in the future?
I am happy living in Dublin but, as I like to say, the world is big!