New York harbor with a silhouette of the statue of liberty.

Imperial or Metric: either way, New York measures up

New York. Two words that are synonymous with the very essence of modern pop culture. Show anyone a heart symbol followed by the letters NY, and you’ll get instant recognition.

New York, the beating heart of Bulls and Bears in Lower Manhattan, and award-winning thespians on Broadway, is also synonymous with cutting-edge design. This design pedigree extends to excellence in architectural form.

So imagine a young building engineer from Australia presented with an opportunity to work in New York for 12 months. That’s exactly what happened to NDY mechanical engineer, Laura Keen.

Hailing from Brisbane, in the Australian state of Queensland, Laura joined engineering design firm, Cosentini Associates for a year-long secondment.

With Cosentini and NDY both part of the Tetra Tech High Performance Buildings Group, Laura relocated to New York and joined Cosentini in July 2018.

Cosentini were in need of additional mechanical engineering expertise to assist the team on a number of key projects. Whilst Laura applied for the New York position, she never anticipated it would turn into reality.

“I was born and raised in Brisbane and had never visited New York, so the opportunity to work with Cosentini was a unique opportunity,” says Laura. “Despite initial reservations about the prospect of moving to a country I had never visited, I was excited by the opportunity to grow professionally and personally by embracing a new life adventure.’’

Commencing as a graduate with NDY straight out of University, Laura started in the Brisbane office as part of the core mechanical team and participated in the graduate rotation program.

Laura’s career path towards engineering started in high school. “I did well at science and maths and in my senior years, so my maths teacher suggested engineering as a career path. At university, I decided on a mechanical major as it seemed like the more challenging option.”

Being open to challenges is a consistent theme in Laura’s career to date. Laura describers her work on the UBS project during her time with Cosentini in New York as both challenging and a highlight. “Working with the Powered by We team on the UBS project to renovate an existing occupied office space in numerous construction phases was a truly unique opportunity.”

Over 15,000 km may separate NDY Brisbane and Cosentini New York, but for Laura, there are similarities beyond project deliverables.

“One similarity I’ve noticed is the people at both Cosentini and NDY are always helpful and the culture of collaboration and teamwork across both firms is consistent. Both companies really value and excel at building close client relationships. On the engineering side the basics are similar but imperial units is a whole new world for me!”

On a personal level, Laura has been enjoying the total sensory experience for which New York is renowned

“Exploring New York City has been an adventure. I had family visit at Christmas and seeing the Rockefeller Christmas tree brought to life so many scenes from childhood movies. It was surreal and inspiring.”

Brisbane will always be home for Laura, but she looks forward to other exciting opportunities within NDY.

“Living on the other side of the world, and opening up myself to new adventures, has been a great learning experience. I’ve grown both as an engineer and as a person, but I don’t think I will ever get use to imperial units.”

This may continue to be Laura’s challenge as her next career stop is set to be NDY Vancouver.

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