Q&A: Talking with Caroline Porteous, Graduate Engineer
Caroline talks about her role as site engineer on New Zealand’s largest-ever wastewater project, the Central Interceptor, what it’s like delivering such an iconic project and what she enjoys most about being part of #OurJacobs.
At Jacobs, we think differently about the future because today’s challenges demand innovative approaches to deliver a more connected, sustainable world. With a fierce commitment to the spaces we inhabit, both globally and environmentally, we’re continually reinvigorating our efforts to be responsible stewards of the natural world, as we contribute forward-thinking sustainable solutions for our clients.
In this series of Q&As, we’re getting to know members of our Jacobs team working on the iconic Central Interceptor project, the largest wastewater tunnel in New Zealand, to deliver healthier waterways and beaches for Aucklanders.
This time, we asked Caroline Porteous about her role as site engineer on the Central Interceptor project, what it's like delivering such an iconic project, and what she enjoys most about being part of #OurJacobs.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your career with Jacobs so far.
I’m a graduate engineer and I’ve been with Jacobs for seven months now. I’m originally from Palmerston North in New Zealand and I studied mechanical engineering in Auckland.
I’ve been overwhelmed by the inclusivity that my wider Jacobs team has shown so far. I’m excited for the future job prospects that Jacobs has in store for me.
What got you interested in a STEAM career?
I started off my career in engineering later than many – I only started studying engineering when I was 24.
I’ve always had a fascination for how things work mechanically - specifically vintage cars and motorcycles - and I’ve had a love for Formula 1 racing. Solving complex problems is something I thrive on, and I enjoy the challenge of improving things to a superior standard.
Tell us about your role on the Central Interceptor (CI) project.
I’m currently working full-time at the Mangere Pump Station (MPS) site as a site engineer. I’m specifically involved in the twin rising mains, confluence chamber and pump station construction work packages.
My day-to-day tasks involve taking walks through our site to check on the progress and the quality of our work. I attend witness points and hold points with the contractor, releasing key items of work along each work package. I also carry out field reports and report to my manager, along with taking care of any other tasks required of me.
Jacobs’ ability to mobilize talent globally sets us apart in our industry. Can you tell us more about this in the context of this project?
Working on such a large project like CI as a graduate is setting me up for my career in engineering. I’m learning valuable skills from my colleagues that have worked all over the world.
I’m very fortunate to be on such an exciting project; I feel the skills and knowledge gained from this project will be transferable across other large-scale global projects.
What has been your most memorable moment delivering this project so far and why?
The wider CI team held an open day at the site that ran over the weekend and we were able to bring our families through. This was a very proud moment for me, letting them see the vastness of the project and how everything is so much bigger in real life than how I had explained to them. I also volunteered for the public open day and felt very privileged to be part of the CI team showing off how our tunnel will prevent wet weather overflows and clean up our central Auckland beaches.
What has been the most challenging part about delivering this project and how have you overcome this?
Being on-site, working with mainly men from a variety of cultures was slightly challenging for me at the start. But as I became more confident in my role, I’ve been able to build strong connections with the other site engineers, foremen and the people carrying out important work.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought with it a new set of challenges. However, we’re continuing to deliver the project amid the pandemic by taking all required safety measures such as maintaining physical distancing, wearing face masks, juggling between different bubbles and completing our weekly COVID-19 nasal swab tests. I feel privileged to be part of the construction team working on this project.
What’s the next exciting project milestone you’re looking forward to?
I’m excited to build the Mangere Pump Station in Auckland. The Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) has just launched, and the first segment ring has just been constructed – a massive milestone for the project so far. Once all the gantries and ancillaries are in place for the TBM, we can start finalizing and finishing the main shaft, preparing for the construction of the pump station.
Tell us about your proudest career moment.
Being hired at Jacobs. I’ve always wanted to work for a global company that challenges real-life problems and creates solutions for them.
If you aren’t in the office or on-site, what would we most likely find you doing?
At the beach with my partner and dog, pottering away in the garden, or cooking for my friends and family.
What do you enjoy most about being part of Jacobs?
The people and the projects.
Join #OurJacobs team
What drives you drives us as we work to build a better world – together. At Jacobs, every day is an opportunity to make the world better, more connected, more sustainable.
We’re always looking for dynamic and engaged people to join our team. Bring your passion, your ingenuity and your vision. Let’s see the impact we can create, together.