Quake effort affirms Griffith Engineering graduate's choice
In 2014, Griffith University engineering graduate Alana Scott gained invaluable experience and insight as she contributed to the ongoing reconstruction effort following the 2011 Christchurch earthquake.
The disaster claimed the lives of 185 people and caused $20 billion in damage, including subsequent ground subsidence that changed floodplain behaviour and flood flowpaths.
“This became most evident during 2014 flood events which affected many Christchurch homes not previously impacted by floodwaters,” says Alana, an environmental engineer with international technical services company, Jacobs.
“I was on secondment for the company in New Zealand and became part of the support team focusing on Christchurch’s Dudley Creek catchment. I assisted in establishing an understanding of the baseline flood risk. Then we undertook a preliminary investigation of options to reduce people’s flood risk.
“This involved modelling creek diversions, channel-widening schemes, stormwater pump stations and pipe upgrades, helping to narrow down mitigation possibilities to a few preferred options.”
Alana graduated from Griffith with a degree in environmental engineering (Honours) in 2011 and joined engineering consultants Sinclair Knight Merz in 2012. The company was acquired by Jacobs in 2013.
Now based in Brisbane, her work involves consulting with Queensland local government authorities on water issues. This can mean flood and catchment modelling, flood risk assessment, mine water balance, erosion and sediment control, stormwater quality and effects, and analysis of needs and consequences arising from transport, industry and housing infrastructure.
It’s all an ideal fit for Alana. However, she may have taken an entirely different study-career path were it not for the influence of her mother and a former American Vice-President.
“I was in Year 12 when I saw Vice-President Al Gore’s film, An Inconvenient Truth,” says Alana. “The film really spoke to me about the precarious state of the environment and the need to encourage expertise and programs towards ensuring a truly sustainable future.
“About the same time, my mum attended a Careers Expo in Brisbane and came home raving about environmental engineering. On the strength of those two events, I enrolled at Griffith and determined to embrace all aspects of my engineering degree.”
As a member of the Griffith Honours College, Alana’s participation in volunteer projects and events such as model United Nations conferences took her to Cambodia, the Netherlands, Germany, Adelaide and Canberra.
She also spent three months in Japan in 2010, completing an Overseas Industrial Experience Program offered through the Griffith School of Engineering and based in Gifu University’s River Engineering Department.
When Alana joined Engineers Without Borders and completed a learning program in India, the experience confirmed the positive impact that good engineering can have on communities. This was repeated in Christchurch.
“The options we provided are being further refined and, when constructed, will undoubtedly bring positive impact to the people of Christchurch,” says Alana.
“In India and New Zealand, I saw the direct benefits of my projects on people’s lives and it’s why I continue to ask, as a person and an engineer: what can I offer communities?”
Environmental engineering at Griffith University
Environmental engineering is a pathway to helping sustain the natural environment and its resources in a modern society through engineering. The Griffith University environmental engineering degree was the first of its kind offered in Queensland, and has continued to evolve to offer an integrated approach to solve and manage environmental problems.
As a foundation, students will develop skills in the analysis and understanding of environmental issues and management together with the ability to deliver robust and practical solutions to problems. Griffith environmental engineering programs combine the strong technical base of a professional engineer with extensive environmental and sustainable knowledge embedded throughout each year.
Program: Master of Environmental Engineering
Location: Nathan Campus, Brisbane, Queensland
Semester intakes: February and July
Duration: 1 – 1.5 years