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Jade Lai

Graduate structural engineer

Working with big design for big vehicles is a big deal in structural engineering and there are plenty of opportunities to get involved

Jade Lai knows transport; the civil engineer says that while Australia’s roadways are ageing, vehicles such as big trucks and heavy lifters are growing. This means there are loads of opportunities for engineers when it comes to designing infrastructure to support them.

“Anyone can be an engineer – I really encourage it,” Jade says.

“Even if you’re a woman, there’s so much out there.” But she wasn’t always so sure engineering was in her future. While at high school, Jade preferred graphics and maths over science-based subjects and was told engineering wouldn’t be an option for her at uni.

She tried an architecture course and then a commerce degree before her partner offered her some sound advice. “He said: ‘why don’t you try engineering anyway?’ After doing some research, I realised engineering also includes the built environment, so that took me down the route of civil engineering.”

Jade transferred to engineering and eventually found her groove completing a Bachelor of Engineering at QUT majoring in civil engineering as well as transport engineering and planning.

After graduating, she jumped straight into a Master of Engineering Management and received the QUT Online Women in STEM Leadership scholarship.

Now with her master’s degree almost complete, Jade works at the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator.

The flexibility of QUT Online has allowed Jade to juggle work and study at the same time and apply what she’s learnt in the classroom to her job.

“We have the flexibility to choose the subject matter.”

When she’s not solving problems for Australia’s roadways, Jade likes to challenge herself by pounding the pavement… running! What does she think about while she’s exercising? How much she likes to challenge herself and be brave when things don’t work out the first time.

“I feel like I’m finally where I’m meant to be,” she says.

Jade’s STEM study + career path

  • Wroclaw University of Science and Technology, Poland, Civil Engineering, Summer Program
  • Bachelor of Engineering (Civil Engineering, Transport Engineering and Planning), QUT
  • Master of Engineering Management, QUT Online
  • Graduate structural engineer, National Heavy Vehicle Regulator

This article first appeared in Careers with STEM: Engineering 2023.

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