Camilla Craig Graduate Civil Engineering Spiire  / 
Focus on the Work

story / Interview / September 25, 2017

I grew up in Wangaratta. My parents have a blueberry farm up there. I moved down to Melbourne to go to Victoria University. I really didn’t know what to do in high school. I always really liked art and I could see myself going into Architecture, but I didn’t get into Architecture, so I ended up in this course called Architectural Engineering. When I heard it was something about designing lighting and air conditioning systems, I thought – maybe not for me! I transferred into civil engineering, because I heard there were good job opportunities.

When I started there was about 200 students, but in the end maybe 80 or 90. There certainly weren’t a lot of females. It’s a difficult course. Maybe a lot of people thought it wasn’t for them? It’s hard to know. In reality, the job is spending eight hours a day on computer, designing. I didn’t know that when I was at university. It wasn’t obvious what skills I would be using day to day. They didn’t teach us relevant AutoCAD, land development or 3D modelling software. The range of subjects were very theory based and big on teamwork.

I went and did an AutoCAD course through NMIT. When I started work experience, I could see that AutoCAD was a necessity and I was going to be using it. I wanted to improve my skills so that I would feel ready for work.

I found University hard. Having to do so much reading, I’m not a theory based person. Practical tasks help me learn. For me there were many setbacks throughout university. There were many hours spent sitting through dry content lectures and I had to repeat a few subjects. Being such a determined person it has taught me to be resilient. When I had these setbacks I just reset my focus on the bigger picture of reaching the goal of finishing University. On reflection it has taught me the importance of maintaining focus on the goal.

A requirement of my degree was to do twelve weeks work experience. I did a month at Wangaratta Council in their engineering department. Then I did two week with Lycopodium in their Perth office. I went to Perth because I was so keen to get experience in a large company. I also did work experience with Oxley & Company to gain exposure to a small business.

When I was looking to finish my work experience, a really fantastic opportunity popped up, through someone I had known through the Yarrawonga Yacht Club. I had been a sailing member there for many years. A Club member had a working relationship with Spiire at their Shepparton office and he put me in contact with them. I was in Shepparton for six months and then made the decision to move to Melbourne. My partner was down here, who I had met at Uni. I’ve now been at Spiire’s Melbourne office for over a year.

My best advise to students is to go and get as much experience as you possibly can. Even in first year University. I did lots of volunteer work. Go to any engineering, or relevant business and offer even just to sit in and see what they do, so that you know it’s for you. You’ll see what you need – like I saw I needed AutoCAD training and go do those extra little things on the side, because that kind of things really help.

At Spiire, we do greenfield land development predominantly. I’m part of the Woodlea team, a really big subdivision of some seven or eight thousand housing lots in Rockbank near Melton, where I work on design. After six months in drafting, I moved on to learn water design, followed by learning how to design the drainage, through AutoCAD and 12D (which is a 3D modelling software). Recently, I’ve learnt how to undertake the sewer design and I’m now starting to learn road design on another project. I feel like in the last year I’ve learnt so much. Having access to lots of people around me who I can constantly ask questions of, or ask for help, has facilitated my learning.

Coming out of Uni, working 8:30am till 5:00pm was a big challenge! Having what felt like no ‘me-time’ was hard. For me, living in the city is still challenging. I’d like to move to Spiire’s Geelong office. Being in a big office and being quite a shy person, was also a challenge. But Spiire’s really good in that they organise so many social events, including YEILD events (Young Engineers in Land Developments), which is great for networking and a good way to get to know the other graduates I’m working with.

I’m a very particular person. I’m very pedantic with my plans. I like everything perfect. For people who are looking to do high end detailed design, want a challenge, and are looking for a fast pace job and a busy dynamic environment, it’s definitely a good industry. I’m constantly thinking, it’s very stimulating and it keeps me interested.

I’m very big on sustainability. At work, with our coffee machine, we use around 70 1L plastic milk bottles each week which is set increase. That’s just less than 4000 milk bottles a year going into landfill. Through a bit of effort, preparing a presentation and going through the environmental management framework, we’ve now switched to cardboard cartons. They were cheaper (which was a bonus)! There was a bit of resistance moving away from plastic, but putting a plastic bottle into the recycle bin, doesn’t mean that it’s going to be recycled, most still go to landfill. People don’t know that. It’s worth making the change.

In the future, I’d also like to start my own business. Outside of work I make furniture, so I want to get a furniture business going using recycled materials. I’ve never used Instagram before, so I need to find out how it works and start using it for my passion project. I made my TV cabinet. The pressed tin in the back is part of the ceiling of my parent’s house and the timber is old decking timber. I love restoring old things. My kitchen chairs are from the 1950s. I got them at a garage sale for $3 each. They were in really bad condition, so I fixed them all up. When I launch my furniture business, I’m going to focus on using recycled timber and other recycled materials.

I absolutely love animals. The best part of my day is getting home to my dog and taking her for a really long walk. Pets are fantastic! I go to the gym in my lunch break. It helps release a lot of energy. I come out with a clearer head at the end of the session. I’m an efficient person. I like to get to work on time, focus on the work, go to the gym, focus on work, and then leave on time. I don’t like the culture of staying back late.

My mother always told me, try your hardest. Do as best as you can.

 

Camilla is fresh and energetic. We met her one night at Flagstaff gardens to chat work, hobbies and all things #gradlife. Camilla has a real drive for educating herself and getting involved in things to further expand her knowledge. We were introduced to her through Spiire’s Instagram where we saw that she was the first female and one of the youngest at Spiire to have gone through the Water design Assurance Scheme exam. Young vibrant people tend to catch our eye. Sometimes we love to bring you stories of directors and CEOs, but equally important are the stories of people like Camilla. Entering the industry and making a name for themselves! We wish Camilla all the best. We’re sure she is one to watch. D&J

 

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