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Acolade for Wairarapa engineer

Carterton-based engineer Michelle Grant has been recognised for her services to the industry and community by Engineering New Zealand [ENZ], which has presented her with the prestigious MacLean Citation award.

ENZ chief executive Richard Templer told Times-Age the award is one of the most important in the engineering sector nationally.

“The award can be given a maximum of once annually, but it is only awarded when someone is considered to have met the bar,” Templer said.

“The criterion for the award asks, has the person’s body of work contributed to a significant part of the profession?

“Has it resulted in a lifting in the standard of the profession?

“And has it been done while exemplifying engineering practice and an outstanding ethics in judgment?”

According to Templer, the fact Grant has earned the award at the age of 44 is impressive, given that recipients are usually much older.

Grant first learned of the honour via a cold call from Templer.

“I was speechless, which is not something I often feel,” she said.

“I am chuffed.

“It felt amazing to be recognised, and I am happy to be doing what I am doing.”

Grant’s engineering career started when she graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Technology Sydney [UTS] in 2001.

She stayed in Syndey doing on-site construction work until 2007, when she hopped the pond and moved to Wairarapa, where her partner’s family are from.

The professional speciality Grant is most noted for is engineering earthquake-safe designs for buildings.

In 2011, she flew to Christchurch after the devastating earthquake to conduct inspections and see which buildings were safe and which were not.

“It was a very good learning experience but very confronting; I was deployed to the red zone in the city doing building inspections for a week after the earthquake,” she said.

“The Christchurch earthquake and the later one in Kaikōura taught us a lot about earthquake resilient design.”

Her earthquake work also included a well-received seminar called The 10 Tips for Designing Low-Rise Structures, which she said saw 400 engineers participate across New Zealand.

In addition, she is noted for being the current lead engineer on the soon-to-come Masterton station for Wellington Free Ambulance, which will be built to an IL4 earthquake standard, meaning will be able to continue operating if a big quake strikes.

She also did some work with the Tīnui community after the Cyclone Gabrielle floods, gave evidence in the recent court case between Masterton District Council and Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand regarding Wairarapa’s defective hospital, and has contributed to community outreach, sector education, and sector design improvements.

Last year, Grant finished a two-year term as president of the Structural Engineering Society of New Zealand [SESONZ].

“When you talk about demographics, I was the first female president of SESONZ; currently, about seven per cent of the engineering workforce is made up of women,” she noted.

Grant is also a co-director of LGE Consulting, which has operated in the region for 10 years.

Her client portfolio includes the Trust Lands Trust [TRT], for which she is working on a range of buildings that need earthquake strengthening.

TRT general manager Andrew Croskery said Grant’s accolade is well-deserved and “great recognition for all the time and effort she put into her work”.

For her part, Grant said she is happy to be in an industry she loves and hopes to continue making a positive difference.

Freddie Wilkie
Freddie Wilkie
Freddie Wilkie is a journalist at the Wairarapa Times-Age; originally moving from Christchurch, he is interested in housing stories as well as covering emergencies and crime.

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