I studied engineering at Tianjin Chengjian University in China, where I majored in electrical engineering and automation. I became interested in design and construction through taking some computer-aided drawing (CAD) classes and, after graduating, I attended a CAD and building information modelling (BIM) school. 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.
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 – not yet at least!
I spent my early career working with an architectural/structural firm in Shanghai. Initially, I was 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.
In 2017, I left China and came to Ireland in the hope of advancing my career by working in an English-speaking country. I joined ROD in 2019 and, since then, I have been building up my experience one project at a time. While working on the as-built drawings for the A6 Randalstown to Castledawson ECI project, 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. As part of my work on the Great Yarmouth Third River Crossing scheme, I was responsible for drafting Structure S07 drawings and assisting with the other structures. I also helped to compile a bill of quantities, a task not usually given to technicians, but I saw it as a great opportunity to develop my skills and expand my knowledge.
While working on the Whitegates to Athlone scheme I was responsible for not just drafting the east approach ramp and boardwalk but checking the steel fabrication drawings and site support. It was a huge step forward in my career, and I am sure it helped in my recent promotion to Technician Grade II.