A Career in Engineering

The following article about Aireys Graduate Engineer Chris Concannon appeared in the IPENZ Auckland Branch September 2008 Bulletin:

Students at Mairangi Bay School are getting an in-depth look at the art of bridge building from Graduate Member Chris Concannon.

Chris is a Futureintech Ambassador and structural engineer with Airey Consultants Ltd. He recently gave two presentations at the school, showing students how basic concepts of maths and physics go into bridge construction. “The first session was an introduction to civil and structural engineering,” he says. “We discussed the engineering aspects of bridges, and what I do at work. In the second session I went into a bit more detail, like the different types of bridges, and what we consider when designing them.”

To illustrate his point, Chris brought along a model bridge made out of popsicle sticks, similar to ones built for school competitions. With the right design, a popsicle stick bridge can support up to 80 kilograms. He also showed them interesting photographs and drawings, and a video of the famous “Galloping Gertie” bridge in America, which spectacularly collapsed in 1940 due to poor engineering. “They went nuts about that one. At the next session, one of the kids asked if I could show it again.”

“They were all pretty attentive. They gave a lot of feedback and had some really good logical questions. I was really impressed with how much they took on.”

Chris is enjoying his involvement with the class. In the next few weeks, they will be holding their own bridge-building competition, and he’ll be visiting again to look at their designs and offer advice.

“This exposes them to world of engineering,” he points out. “I never had that when I was in school. It’s a unique chance to give them an idea of where maths and science can lead.” Mairangi Bay assistant principal Alice Ho agrees. “It was invaluable for students to be able to access an expert like Chris as they researched their questions and tried out ideas,” she says. “He’s a great role model, as students see him as someone who enjoys engineering work and does it well.”

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