An adventure I could not refuse | Ethan Harrison’s 2019/2020 Summer Story

February 17, 2020

Working as a part of the Transmission Gully AECOM team was the highlight of my summer work experience, said Ethan Harrison, Keystone Trust study award recipient in 2018 and University of Auckland Engineering School (Civil) student.

Transmission Gulley is a 27km four-lane highway part of the larger 110km Wellington Northern Corridor project to open in April 2020.

“I found myself on the structural engineering team working on the quality assurance process of the 22 bridges along the 27km stretch of roading. I loved this hands-on involvement and smaller office as it provided me with real life opportunity to transfer my university learnings into real practical scenarios.”

In June 2019, Ethan began his practical engineering work experience with AECOM’s Hamilton-based office, an opportunity created through his Auckland-based Keystone Trust mentor, Anthony (Ant) Ellmers. Ant worked for sponsor company RCP at the time.

“Ant was amazing,” said Ethan.  “We would meet every couple of weeks, and he would buy me a coffee and we’d usually chat for an hour so and time flies by. I’ve learnt so much from him and want to give him all the credit he deserves. Through Ant I received contacts with AECOM in Hamilton, which is my hometown, and that secured me a mid-year internship without even having to apply as well as priceless advice about uni, civil engineering and what pathways you can follow within it.”

Initially, Ethan thought he was just going to have a chat and be shown around the Hamilton office as part of an introduction to AECOM.  However, once he’d spoken with the area manager, he said “We’ve read your CV, enjoyed our chat and we’d like to bring you on board.” 

Ethan started as an undergraduate Transport Engineer which eventually evolved to Undergraduate Civil Engineer.  However, his boss heard about an opportunity that had come up in the Transmission Gulley (TG) team and as work was looking a bit light over the summer, he reached out to the TG site office Head, James Koudounis.

“It was incredible – AECOM offered me paid-for accommodation, a travel and food allowance and I couldn’t refuse,” said Ethan. “The opportunity to work in structural engineering and the youth of the TG office made it really relatable. There was only one employee in our office over 35 years of age, and I was even flatting with two of my co-workers and we all got along really well.”

Keystone Trust offers each of its students the opportunity to be matched with an industry mentor.  For Ethan, the fit was perfect, but he worked at keeping the relationship alive and always had questions or insights to discuss with Ant.

 “AECOM has an outstanding culture which I have been privileged to experience – whether it is the fiercely contested table tennis trophy or boat races at the Christmas party at the beautiful Hamilton Gardens, AECOM is a great employer.  They are also an international organisation which they talked about at their 2018 Keystone Trust Showcase – I’d like to be like my mentor, Ant, and work with them internationally.

“Thank you to Keystone Trust and Ant for helping me get a foot in the door with connections that I would never have been able to make myself so early on in my career. I am excited for my future with AECOM and I hope to return for future internships and hopefully a graduate role.”

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