For Frank Chen CPEng, engineering in the public sector has helped him make a meaningful difference to the lives of the people around him.
Frank Chen CPEng, Project Manager at New Bridgewater Bridge Project, has been around engineering his entire life — he’s even the son of two engineers. So perhaps it was no surprise that he would end up heading up a city council’s infrastructure department by the age of 31. “That was a really young age,” he told create. “You deal with a lot of people with years’ of experience ahead of you.”
When it came to making sure that the people around him knew he was capable of handling the job, it helped that he was a Chartered engineer. “Pursuing Chartered status probably gave me the confidence to be recognised as a competent engineer in this professional field. — that I know I’m at least equivalent to those people I’m dealing with day-to-day, both internally and externally,” Chen says.
“You have other engineers within the organisation, and externally we deal with consultants that work for council. And also we deal with consultants working for developers,and sometimes they could be quite pushy.”
Today, Chen is overseeing even bigger projects. He is now the Project Manager in charge of delivering the new Bridgewater Bridge, the largest transport project in Tasmania’s history.
“My role is more focused on managing the contract and administration, and also the engineering side,” he explains. “I will not be the technical expert in this instance … I have a general understanding of what the design constructions are, but I also rely on the technical expert or the subject expert to inform us when there’s a decision that needs to be made.”
But be it a state-level project or work for local government, he values the chance to contribute to the community around him. “I’m proud of what I’m doing, and that’s the way the job I do day-to-day make people’s lives different,” he says. “At the state level, its more working on highway jobs, for which you get a wider group … and a wider social, economic and environment benefit.”
It means he’s operating on a larger scale than in previous roles, but the satisfaction of having a meaningful impact to people’s lives is the same.
“That’s probably one of the benefits in working local government, or working in the public sector,” he says. “You see every day what you do actually affects the life of individuals of the community, and I feel I’m making a difference for the community. So there’s projects I’ve had before — drainage projects, road projects — that have changed people’s day-to-day life.”