Shannon Kieran: 2022 Steel Excellence Award winner

Shannon Kieran won the ASI’s 2022 Steel Excellence Award in the national Young Designer, Detailer or Trades Person category.

Shannon is a structural engineer in Aurecon’s Darwin office, within the Built Environment Group. Shannon has provided structural design and construction site support services, including design team leadership for a range of projects in sectors as diverse as civil, energy, maritime, telecommunications, resources, infrastructure and defence. She has worked on steel, timber and engineered wood products, as well as reinforced and post-tensioned concrete structures in cyclonic and high wind environments. Shannon has also designed for highly constrained, remote, and complex conditions, such as Macquarie Island, where constructibility is key to successful delivery.

Dedicated to her profession

Shannon has been recognised for her effort and dedication to her profession at Aurecon. The ‘Top 10%’ grade is the highest rating in Aurecon’s annual performance review, which is given to employees who have achieved exceptional results against performance targets by exceeding all duties outlined in the roles and responsibilities for their position. Shannon has received a ‘Top 10%’ evaluation rating for both of her annual performance reviews at Aurecon. 

According to Shannon, “This is a difficult achievement; I was the only employee in Aurecon’s Darwin office of over 60 employees to achieve this rating in 2021. Outside of my day-to-day learning opportunities at Aurecon, I continually seek to expand my knowledge in new areas. For example, I have undertaken additional classes in parametric modelling—an advanced modelling technique that allows complex analysis to be undertaken for the purposes of minimising waste and achieving highly efficient designs. I am also committed to supporting my team and have run training sessions for our structural team to share knowledge I have gained on using new software or design techniques, and to share lessons learned on projects.”

In addition to her pursuit of technical excellence, Shannon is also committed to her profession more generally. She is an elected Committee Member of the Northern Division Committee of the Institution of Engineers Australia.

“My role on the Division Committee is to support Engineers Australia to set and deliver their strategic goals in the Northern Territory. I am responsible for championing STEM engagement within schools to encourage primary and secondary school children to consider a career in STEM and engineering from an early age, as well as championing tertiary engagement at both a student and faculty level, with the goal of providing a better outcome for engineering graduates,” said Shannon.

Project management skills

Since joining Aurecon in 2020, Shannon has had the opportunity to work across landmark building projects such as Charles Darwin University’s (CDU) Education and Community Precinct. She took on the role of acting structural lead for this project on two separate occasions, while the structural lead was on leave. According to Shannon, “In this role, I was responsible for managing the delivery of the CDU project to ensure the structural design documentation was completed and delivered on time to meet two key milestone deliverable dates.” 

“This is a large project with many stakeholders to manage including designers, reviewers, drafters, and verifiers within the design team, as well as architects and contractors externally. Despite being one of the most junior engineers in this wide project team, I was able to manage and coordinate the design team to ensure we delivered our design documentations within the milestone deadline, whilst responding to architects and contractors, and completing my own design task responsibilities,” said Shannon.

Commitment to environmental sustainability in construction

Shannon’s awareness of, and commitment to, the integration of environmental sustainability within in the construction industry is clear.

“I believe that climate change disruption and the associated need for environmental sustainability are two of our biggest emerging challenges. The building industry is responsible for around 39% of emissions globally, with 11% due to embodied emissions and 28% due to operational emissions. Therefore, I believe we have a responsibility to lead the way in sustainability,” said Shannon. 

“At the same time, the construction industry’s tendency is to be quite traditional and risk-averse, so the economic benefits which can be achieved need to be highlighted and demonstrated to industry, whilst mitigating safety and risk concerns.”

“At the core of sustainable design lies the concept of achieving circular supply chains through the four pillars of reducing, reusing, and recycling, particularly when it comes to reducing the embodied emissions of building construction. Reducing and reusing are the easiest to actively promote and encourage, as this can directly appeal to developers’ prime interest of economic return.” 

Shannon has a real passion for promoting engineering as a career to students. “My past activities include: founding and leading a successful school outreach program for Engineers Without Borders Australia (which reached over 500 secondary school students across the NT within its first year); working for my university as a Peer-Assisted Study Support Leader for struggling engineering students; and co-founding the CDU Engineering Students Society (where I held four executive positions, including President).”

“I am currently championing school and tertiary engagement as an elected member of the Engineers Australia Northern Division Committee, holding a STEM Industry Mentor role with a local high school assisting students with STEM design projects, and maintaining part-time employment at CDU assisting with the delivery of a first-year engineering design subject,” said Shannon.

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