Special Edition

Episode

ATEM - THE CIVIL ENGINEER

6_customer account manager_w-background.
"Any company that is selling their products to another company would need an account manager
8_Strategic Shareholder_w-background.jpg

THE STRATEGIC SHAREHOLDINGS CONSULTANT

"What I love about the job is how international it is"
10_aflw Player_w-background.jpg

THE AFLW PLAYER

"My advice to young people always is to take your time"
11_cybersecurity consultant_w-background
"Communication, that's the strongest most desirable and beneficial trait to have"
3_project director_w-background.jpg
"My job is about finding solutions"
ABOUT ATEM

"It's not easy but it's definitely not impossible"

My name is Atem Makuach, I was born in Sudan before emigrating to Australia in 2006. My parents never had any formal education, in fact, no one from my father’s family ever even finished high school, I’m the first one to have ever reached such a milestone. It’s humbling progress but is something I sometimes take for granted. I try to reflect on it every time I’m faced with something seemingly impossible to conquer and it gives me strength to overcome it.

My journey to Australia was quite challenging. At first we settled in Egypt as refugees, waiting for the United Nations to process our visas. Although Egypt is in Africa geographically, I felt that we, as Black Africans, didn’t get treated with respect. Our lives were always in constant danger and as a result, kids were not allowed to go outside by themselves at all. I witnessed a lot of dark skinned people in Egypt being attacked and called names by the Egyptians. It was those circumstances that enabled me to grow up and mature before my time. I also understood that I was a minority and that I didn’t belong in Egypt; despite the fact that they were my fellow Africans.

Since the situation in Egypt was not favourable for the reasons mentioned, my family put our safety first and decided to not send us to school; we also didn’t have the money to cover school fees. As a result, I spent almost three years in Egypt without any schooling, which was an excruciating experience!

After being in Egypt for almost two years without positive changes, my family started to become anxious; patience was dissipating, and our future was not looking promising. There were times when my family considered returning to Sudan if things remained the same. Then came the great news, the Australian Government and its people accepted our family and granted us permanent residence visas. I remember adults in my family celebrating but I didn’t for two good reasons. First, I’d never heard of Australia (my lack of geographic knowledge then to be blamed), and second, I assumed, the Australian people were automatically going to be racist to us, just like the Egyptians. I must admit, that was an immature thought. Australia is not a perfect country, but the Australian people have been unbelievably kind to my family and I. Words cannot simply explain the opportunities that were given to me and there are more to come.

Australia had been so good to me, for example, I finally had the freedom to live like a teenager, go to school, play a sport (the greatest game of all, basketball) and interact with other people without fear, nevertheless, I still struggled to find a sense of belonging. By nature I am a very curious person; I wanted to learn more, get involved in challenging activities and come up with solutions. Sport enabled me to answer some of my questions, however, I struggled to find a person or a place to go to for career advice in particular. At that time, my English was not good, so I avoided asking non-Sudanese people. That didn’t help, so I got frustrated, confused and my thoughts didn’t pass beyond my forehead. It took me a while to figure out what I needed to do with my life. Eventually, after undertaking short courses, I ended up at Victoria University, Melbourne Australia, where I completed a Bachelor of Civil Engineering.

I want to share more but I don’t want to bore you. I’m sure there will be times or platforms where I will be able to share more of my journey from Sudan to Australia. But until then, I would like to take this time to thank you for reading my story, thank you again, much love and stay safe.

Ep5_civil engineer_jpg.jpg
ABOUT CIVIL ENGINEERING
The Civil Engineer.jpg

"If you're an active person, this is a good job for you"

ASCE.org: "Civil engineers design, build, and maintain the foundation for our modern society – our roads and bridges, drinking water and energy systems, sea ports and airports, and the infrastructure for a cleaner environment, to name just a few.

 

Civil engineering touches us throughout our day. Think of a civil engineer when you:

  • Turn on your tap to take a shower or drink clean water

  • Flick on your lights and open your refrigerator 

  • Drive to work on roads and bridges through synchronized traffic lights

  • Take mass transit or take a flight for a vacation

  • Toss your empty coffee cup in the recycling bin

Civil engineers often specialize in one of a number of technical areas such as Transportation, Coastal, Engineering, Structural, Environmental, Geotechnical, Construction, Architectural and Engineering Mechanics."

PODCAST Q&A WITH ATEM
The%252520Civil%252520Engineer_edited_ed

"What got us to the construction site was our willingness to work while studying"

Q – What do you most like about your job?

 

A – What I like about my job is the satisfaction. Firstly we do real stuff. If you were to build something, for example, like the dam upgrade we’re doing now, later on you can show your friends and family and be able to say ‘I was part of the team that built this important infrastructure for the society’. Secondly, it’s challenging. It’s hard to say ‘I’m bored as an engineer’ as you’re always being challenged and you’re always learning.

Q - What do you wish you had known when you first started your job as an engineer?

 

A – I wish I knew engineering wasn’t about maths. When I got into engineering and got on site I realised that engineering is about people skills, its not just about maths which is a tiny part of what we do.

Q – What kind of work experience should our listeners try to get before entering into the industry?

A – My advice to young engineers who are studying right now who would to become a civil engineer, please find any construction job – that’s not design – where you can see things being built. That will help you with your studies because then you’ll be able to conceptualise things which is a very big/important part of engineering exams. If you can’t see something in your head or you can’t relate to it in real life then you won’t be able to answer the questions. So go to a construction site and ask for someone to work with, even if it’s for free. Do it because it is going to help you in the long run.

Q – What else do our listeners need to do to get to where you are now?

 

A – Develop the courage. If civil engineering or any other engineering profession is something that you want to do then I would say it is something that is very achievable. If I can do it then so can you, you just need to be committed, you need to be willing to learn, and you need to be willing to be called stupid. Once you go through that process of wanting to challenge yourself, you’ll find that it’s actually easier than what you thought it was to become and engineer and then the rest is really history.

Q – What else do our listeners need to do to get to where you are now?

 

A – Develop the courage. If civil engineering or any other engineering profession is something that you want to do then I would say it is something that is very achievable. If I can do it then so can you, you just need to be committed, you need to be willing to learn, and you need to be willing to be called stupid. Once you go through that process of wanting to challenge yourself, you’ll find that it’s actually easier than what you thought it was to become and engineer and then the rest is really history.