Home' Engineers Australia Engineering Expo : Engineers Australia Engineering Expo Contents NATAGE H014
THE AGE Saturday, March 26, 2011
mycareer.com.au 13 22 43
Working on relief missions requires specialist
training to complement engineering skills.
Hahn in Ethiopia,
helping to set up a
new refugee camp
to house 20,000
around the globe
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When bad things happen
around the world many
organisations are poised to
provide expert help.
We think of Medecins Sans
Frontieres or the Red Cross, doctors,
nurses, tents, and food, but relief
usually demands engineering expertise.
Recognising this, RedR maintains a
standby register of skilled personnel
for established frontline aid
organisations to draw on for short-
term emergency and disaster
Working on relief missions requires
specialist training to complement
engineering skills, RedR also provides
humanitarian response training courses
to help equip potential and experien-
ced aid workers with the specialised
skills and knowledge to maximise their
effectiveness in the field.
Nicole Hahn went into engineering
with a deep desire to apply her skills
where they were really needed. "I
started off with Arup," she says.
"I worked for a few years in their
Civil department and their project
management department, then moved
up to the Northern Territory, because
Arup program managed the National
Aboriginal Health Strategy. I was there
for a few years, and in that time did a
few placements with RedR." The
organisation's model is designed to
allow people to take time off from
their permanent jobs to work
wherever they are needed.
"Arup, like lots of engineering firms,
supports RedR, they allowed me to
take leave of absence quite a few
times, then when I came back I just
returned to my job," Ms Hahn says.
When Arup closed its Darwin office,
Ms Hahn decided to take on RedR
This was, after all, the work she
became an engineer to do. Working
for RedR goes way beyond
engineering, she says.
"When you start off in engineering
you imagine it is going to be quite
technical, but I spend most of my time
coordinating, relationship building, and
getting the right people to talk to
''Fixing a pump, there's plenty of
people around who can do that, and
you don't need to bring in an
international engineer to dig a hole."
There are many places in the world
in need of an engineer's helping hand,
and Ms Hahn has been to many of
them. In Swaziland it was drought
relief, East Timor was internal
displacement, Ethiopia was a camp to
house 20,000 Somali refugees. She was
ten months in Sri Lanka, coping with
the aftermath of civil war, and
returned from Haiti in December.
By the time you read this she will be
in Liberia, thanks to turmoil in
neighbouring Ivory Coast. "There has
been an 80 percent increase in
refugees in the last couple of weeks,"
"I will be working with UNHCR
coordinating water and sanitation. I
enjoy the challenge, I enjoy working
with people from all over the world. I
like helping in times of need."
This is work that needs doing, but it
is not for everyone.
"It takes a person who likes
challenges and doesn't care about the
conditions they live in," Ms Hahn says.
Some people set out to change the
world, but not Ms Hahn. "There is a
difference between helping someone,
like after an earthquake, when they
need help, and going in to change
their whole life."
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