From major city highways to remote rural routes, civil and construction engineer Verity Williams is used to working in challenging conditions.
“I love my job but it can be high pressure at times,” Williams laughs. “Standing on highways at midnight in the pouring rain, working against the clock to make upgrades before commuters wake up. Those situations have taught me a lot about quick problem solving!”
As a highways engineer for global consultancy Arup, Williams has been assigned to major roadworks across the country.
She is currently working on a multi-million-dollar upgrade to the Great Northern Highway between Muchea and Wubin.
“I’ve been conducting site day trips but also manage tenders, budgets and forecasting as well as technical deviations, approvals and road safety initiatives,” she explains.
The Curtin engineering graduate not only enjoys her job, but says her family and friends are fans of her line of work.
“They hassle me on a daily basis about what they can expect on the road!” she laughs. “But it’s so wonderful that I help create a faster and more pleasant travel experience for them and the community.”
Williams was recently honoured with the Young Professionals Award by Roads Australia for demonstrating ‘promise, passion and pursuit’.
Roads Australia is the peak body responsible for championing the country’s 817,000 kilometre road network.
“I was thrilled to receive the award,” she beams. “It’s offered me a huge range of opportunities to connect with other young professionals across Australia.
“I really believe if we can promote knowledge sharing between disciplines and interstate, we can advance initiatives and technologies more quickly, and create a more efficient and integrated transport network.”
Williams says her Curtin degree was an excellent foundation for her career, giving her plenty of practical experience, as well as developing her interest in sourcing local and sustainable materials.
“I chose to study engineering at Curtin for many reasons, but a major incentive was its unit on timber design. Timber is one of the world’s most environmentally-friendly building products,” she explains.
In her final year of study, she attended the World Conference on Timber Engineering in Auckland, New Zealand.
“I found it incredibly interesting to see how people worldwide are using local resources to address local constraints and challenges,” she says.
“I particularly enjoyed talks on re-building Christchurch after its catastrophic earthquake and construction works in Norway’s high snowfall areas.
“I also wrote my final thesis on timber bridge decking with Main Roads WA.”
As the recipient of both the Curtin Engineering Excellence and Main Roads WA scholarships, Williams says she benefited from early exposure to the industry.
“It was a big advantage to conduct site-based work and go on vacation placements early on in my degree and see how engineering worked in practice. It added real context to my studies.”
While she enjoyed the camaraderie and challenges of study, Williams also made the most of Curtin campus life.
“There’s more to life than just study and Curtin offers amazing extra-curricular activities,” she enthuses.
“I mentored first-year students, participated in the ambassador program, attended numerous Guild events and tried everything from beach dodgeball to salsa classes.
“I was involved with the Curtin Engineering Club as founding treasurer of the Curtin division of Women in Engineering. I also adored travelling to far-flung corners of the state with Curtin Volunteers!”
Today, the busy engineer continues to champion young professionals in her field.
“I want to encourage greater diversity in the industry,” she says. “Engineering is an excellent choice for women interested in STEM with so many fascinating areas of growth and the opportunity to make a real difference to the community.”