In 2019, Madsen Giersing welcomed Ruwanika Piyasena to our team in the role of Structural Engineer. Having worked and studied across a range of engineering sectors from buildings to Structural Dynamics and Blast Analysis, Ruwanika applies her wealth of knowledge and experience to each project to find innovative engineering solutions for our clients. We caught up with her to find out a bit more about her journey through the industry.
Why did you become an engineer/drafter?
I became an engineer because I loved maths and physics, so naturally I landed on studying engineering. When it came to choosing between the many different streams of engineering, like mechanical, electrical, computer or civil, the obvious choice for me was civil because I have always been fascinated by structures.
What do you love about engineering/drafting?
I love seeing designs take form into real structures. It makes me proud that I am part of projects that the world will marvel at.
I also love that engineers can find solutions to every problem. I used to watch documentaries about how some of the worlds world most phenomenal projects came to life, and in all of them I noticed one thing; no matter what architectures design and no matter how impossible it is to bring that design a real structure, engineers always have an innovative and practical solution.
What are you working on at the moment?
One project I am working on is an access brow and davit design for FMG. The access brow, which is a gangway that gives access to tug boats, is definitely a challenging yet enjoyable project for me as it includes several mechanical components that require extreme accuracy and attention to detail.
What has been your greatest professional achievement to date?
Last year I accomplished a long awaited dream of mine, which was completing my PhD in Structural Engineering. It was seriously hard work, but I am so proud that I stuck through it.
What’s the best project you have worked on?
I have mostly been working on temporary works projects, however a recent one involving crane support frame for pile driving has been my favourite. When designing this, we had to consider several practical scenarios and limitations as two cranes were operating on the frame simultaneously and we had to rely on existing piles as well.
What’s the most useful thing you’ve learned throughout your career?
Never be afraid to explore new fields in engineering. As a graduate engineer I used to work on the structural design of buildings, then I started working on my PhD which was in Structural Dynamics and Blast Analysis, and now I am designing marine structures and temporary works. The knowledge I have gathered from each of these fields is priceless.
What excites you about the future of our industry?
The most exciting thing is how we can apply new technology into structural designs. While the basic physics and mathematical theories will always be the base of the designs, we can always improve the quality and accuracy of the designs with new technologies such as finite element analysis, ANN Techniques, optimisation techniques and coding applications.
What would be your dream project to work on from history?
Sydney Opera House. When I was a kid I watched a documentary on how engineers and architects designed and constructed this world marvel. I was fascinated by how engineers invented solutions to all the problems to get the final spectacular outcome that people from all over the world visit Sydney to see.
What piece of advice would you give to an aspiring engineer?
Don’t limit yourself to one field or path. If you have come so far as an Engineer, it is only a matter of time and just a bit of hard work for you to transfer your knowledge and focus to a new area of expertise.
What would your last meal be?
Rice, stir-fried prawns and vanilla Ice cream to finish off.
What is the last movie you watched or series you binged?
The Good Place – it’s an American fantasy comedy series. It was a little different to what I usually watch which are thrillers or mystery, but I enjoyed it a lot.
Who’s the greatest engineer of all time and why?
I admire Antoni Gaudi. He is not an Engineer, but a Spanish Architect. During a tour to Barcelona I got to visit most of his amazing designs and I started admiring his attention to detail and innovative ideas. I also love the fact that Spain is still benefiting from his masterpieces almost a 100 years after his death. If you haven’t heard of Gaudi, look him up – you won’t be disappointed.