Wow, I’m in Cape Town! The beautiful Mother City and where I got my degree in Mechanical Engineering. Due to the lack of engineering jobs in this ‘lifestyle city’, I had to move up to the industrial and business laden regions of the country (the Northern part of SA). Ironically, I’m back in Cape Town for engineering work.

My latest project involved the water coolers for the plant we’re building. We’ve been having some issues with the water cooling system, and I’ve been tasked with finding out exactly why, and recommending how to solve the problem. So I’m down here to visit the manufacturing operations of the supplier of the coolers, chat to the engineers and try and learn more about the science behind the system. Excitingly, this is the first project that I’m responsible for that actually affects the project. 

It really hit me on Wednesday at the weekly progress meeting. This meeting is HUGELY important and is where all the major stakeholders of the project meet and discuss the progress/ problems and major decisions about the project. This week, I was in the agenda as being responsible for the water coolers! I had to give everyone (the client representatives and engineers; the consultant project managers; and the consultant design engineers; planners etc) an update as to the status of my findings. It looks as though I really need to step up my work-after getting back from leave, I’m more than ready to get some serious work done!

Its a weird but cool feeling actually being held responsible for something. Even though its just a small piece of the bigger picture, it affects so many things. Directly, the water coolers are essential for cooling the furnaces and other critical parts of the plant. The civil designs and plant layout depend on the size and number of coolers I will recommend. The planners have worked me into their highly complex schedule and given me a deadline that was determined by all the subsequent tasks that need the information I have. I’m beginning to see how every tiny slice of the project needs to fit perfectly together in order for it to be completed well and in time! Its great to see real engineering at work.

Luckily, the team of engineers are a really awesome bunch, with everyone super willing to help me (the fledgling grad who tends to get ahead of herself from time to time). Its so important that the team works together and communicates their ideas well so that everyone is always clear on what the current plan is (because things change so rapidly and frequently).

My favourite part though is when the design team breaks away after the meeting to discuss some or other detail of the layout that needs to change. I may be doing a lot more of this soon...hint hint...but more about that later 😉