Faculty of
Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology

Kate Heliotis

  • Why did you choose this career?

    I chose to work after finishing high school, and gained experience in a Project Management firm as an administrator. I quickly learned about the design and construction industry and loved how it combined creativity with scientific theory. I also loved how project work brings together many different disciplines to collaborate towards a mutual goal, often under time and financial constraints, adding a level of intensity and purpose to the work.

    I chose to do civil engineering because it is the science that connects with humans and their needs. Civil engineering forms the basis of all our daily functions as a society that we take for granted.

  • How did your studies at UQ prepare you for employment?

    UQ offered many avenues for adding value to my undergraduate experience, such as the UQ Advantage Award, which allowed me to broaden my networks, improve my communication skills and practice leadership.

    When applying for jobs I was able to showcase a CV that demonstrated my involvement in a diverse array of activities, and during interviews I could reflect on my experiences and demonstrate how I could add value to the company that I wanted to work for.

    The coursework itself was challenging but it also made me the best engineer that I could be, and now I feel skilled to take on tasks that I have no experience in because I’ve been taught fundamental theory and have been given the tools to investigate and solve problems efficiently and with high resolution.

  • What was the hiring process to get your job?

    I sent my CV to the company email address to express my interest in an undergraduate position, I also included written letters of reference and something that helped me stand out from other CVs.

    For me, this was combining my passion for photographing architecture and my creation of a social network community based on sharing photos of structures from all over the world. Following this I sat for an interview and was offered a job at the end of my third year. I secured a permanent position in my fourth year which I began after completing my final exams.

  • What are your main work activities day to day?

    On a daily basis I refer to Australian design codes, review drawings, design the geometry of structures in modelling software, establish loads on structures, determine capacities and analyse deflections of members.

    There is also a large element of communication in my work, sometimes this is verbal in design meetings or internal project brainstorming sessions, at other times it is researching and reporting, as well as being able to sketch my solutions quickly to share my ideas.

  • What are your career plans for the future?

    In the immediate future I will continue to try to learn as much as I can from my more experienced colleagues and industry peers while refining my design processes. I am very happy working within a design office and love the challenge of working on buildings and collaborating with architects. In the long term, I would love to run my own engineering design consultancy one day.

  • What advice do you have or students who may be looking to get into this career?
    1. Do not listen to the myths that engineering is “hard” or let that scare you! Engineering is challenging, but it’s also very rewarding and you are not doing it alone. There is so much support around you and your engineering peers become your best mates. This is true for study AND working professionally.
    2. Try to get undergraduate work experience from the start of your degree, even if it’s in an administrative role. Being exposed to the work will help you decide if you definitely want to pursue it and it will also motivate you to keep going! It will also build your networks.
    3. Get involved while at uni!! Say “YES” to every opportunity. Once you have a go at one thing, the opportunities to broaden your experience and exposure just keep growing.

    Don’t be afraid to chat to the academics/lecturers, let them know you want to learn as much as you can and they will be more than generous with their time to help you achieve what you want to achieve. 

Professional Spotlight
Kate Heliotis

Current role: 
Structural Engineer
Bligh Tanner


Educational background: 
Bachelor of Engineering (Civil Engineering), The University of Queensland

Field of Study: 
Civil Engineering

Company Profile

Bligh Tanner
Bligh Tanner has projects all over Australia so my colleagues are constantly on the move. Some of our sites are so remote that they can only be reached via helicopter.