What's your job about?
Powerco is one of the only two dual energy distributors in New Zealand, which delivers electricity and gas to around 1.1m customers. Powerco has the New Zealand longest electricity distribution network, which is about 30,000 kilometres, and also has the largest energy distribution area, which covers about 39,000 kilometre squares.
As being a Powerco’s Graduate Electrical Engineer, my main responsibility is to assist other experienced engineers while learning from them. Powerco’s graduate programme let graduate engineers to rotate between different engineering groups to experience every aspect of Powerco’s engineering-relative business. My first rotation was in the asset fleet team, which is responsible for asset management. The team contains 2 groups, which are responsible for overhead network and underground network respectively, and I was mainly based in the overhead group. I had done many different jobs, such as standard reviewing, testing data analysis, and writing project briefs. Among them, project briefs writing is the most important job. I had completed quite a few Powerco old network renewal project briefs. The largest one was the renewal project of whole Patea urban Network. The whole project was divided into 3 smaller projects, and they were estimated to cost around $1m. They focused on sagging power lines, rotten cross arms, and rotten poles.
What's your background?
I was born in Taichung, Taiwan. Taichung is a city in the middle of Taiwan, and it has a population over 2 million. I had lived in Taichung until 16, and then I moved to New Zealand in 2009, but before that, I had been to New Zealand several times and had about a year of primary education here. I finished my high school and university education in Christchurch. In April 2018, after completing a summer research scholarship project “EV Charging” in the summer of 2017-18, I graduated from the University of Canterbury with a BE(Hons) degree in Electrical Engineering.
Before I graduated from the university and got the Graduate Electrical Engineer position in Powerco, I completed 2 practical jobs and an engineering final year project. My first practical job was working as a technician assistant in an electrical appliance retailer. This job combined aspects of electronic, electrical and mechanical. I did my final year project before the second practical job. It was about measuring generators’ reactance by using traditional methods (slip test, open circuit and short circuit tests) and a new method called Schicker’s method. My second practical job was about EV charging cable protection. I tested 3 types of RCD and found the most economic one for residual current protection.
Several months after graduating, I got a Graduate Electrical Engineer offer from Powerco. As knowing Powerco is a great company, I accepted the offer immediately. I started the job in February 2019, which is 7 months ago.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
Yes or maybe no, it depends on how different the background is. I would suggest that who has a relative engineering qualification background, such as electronic, mechatronic, or mechanical, should be able to learn the knowledge and skills fast. People with other completely different background may still be able to learn the skills, but it will cost more effort and time. Critical thinking, problem solving and team work are definitely important in engineering roles, but the most important part of being an engineer is to keep learning.
What's the coolest thing about your job?
In my first rotation in the asset fleet team, which just finished last month, field inspection was the coolest and most interesting part that I enjoyed the most. I have been to several field inspection, such as during the Patea urban network renewal project, which connect the real-world situation to the network data. It was also exciting when I rotated to my current group, which is planning team. It is responsible for network development. Changing environment and encountering new knowledge are always challenging and exciting.
What are the limitations of your job?
Previously, when Powerco recruited graduate electrical engineers, those engineers would just stay in the engineering team they firstly entered and did not rotate. It might make them unfamiliar with other engineering aspects in the company for the first couples of years. However, Powerco has reshaped the graduate programme, and it now becomes well-structured. Powerco’s graduate engineers now rotate between different departments every 4 to 6 months and have an opportunity to experience every aspect of the Powerco’s power business. This also means new knowledge and challenges will keep coming.
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