Expert Interview with Grace Orlando, Mechanical and Piping Engineer
As a Mechanical and Piping engineer, Grace Orlando supports clients around Australia and the world to design engineering and piping solutions for the mining and chemical processing industry. Her expertise in this specialist area of engineering consultancy has her working across a range of piping environments.
Grace’s passion for the field sees her frequently called on to debunk the complexities involved in this technical area of mechanical design.
What is your role at Tetra Tech?
As a Mechanical and Piping engineer I work with a variety of clients in the mining and chemical processing industries, both here in Australia and abroad.
I have always been interested in the mechanics of pumps and piping since the start of my career. It is a passion of mine and I enjoy the variety of client projects I get to work on, and the colleagues I get to work with here at Tetra Tech.
What separates Piping engineers from our Mechanical engineers?
So, when I first started out, I was working for a pump company, and a lot of the people there used to scoff and say things like “oh, they’re just a Piping engineer, anyone can run a pipe!” People do this, but it’s not true! There’s a lot about piping that people don’t realize, such as the fluid dynamics, pipe stress, designing to standards and codes- there’s so much. It’s very broad and I constantly find it fascinating.
What do you enjoy most about your field?
What I love about engineering is there’s always something new; always more to learn. There’s so much knowledge in the industry, so we have the privilege of being able to spend your whole career just learning and collaborating with other engineers. I always really enjoy hearing about new technologies and advanced piping solutions but most of all the technical calculations of piping systems.
“Grace consistently demonstrates a keenness and aptitude to understand key design parameters that is reflected in her work. She is a great contributor to our client’s projects”. Kevin Brown, Principal Mechanical Engineer, Tetra Tech Proteus
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in your career?
The biggest challenge was early on in my career when I came to Australia in 2005 from Malaysia. I came here for study and finished my Bachelor of Engineering in 2010 at the University of Western Australia.
While I’m not of an English-speaking background, learning to understand a new culture has been my biggest challenge to date. But I have been here 17 years (that’s half my life!) and, with a young family and friends, I really call it home now.
What are some of the memorable projects you have worked on?
There are so many, but I would have to say the memorable ones are always the most challenging including the longest piping network I have done for the Lake Way BTS Detail Design for Salt Lake Potash.
We had to perform numerous fluid calculations and finding innovative ways to transfer the brine water to achieve cost and energy effectiveness. Another challenging one would be the steam and molten sulphur piping design for Sulphur Melting Plant Upgrades for Minara Resources. We had to tie-in the new system to the complex and crowded existing system, with limited existing document and resources. The environment also plays a big part in your piping design as well. You could say “I’m at my best when things get interesting!”
As a woman in engineering, what do you think the industry can do to support more women in STEM roles?
I find engineering to be generally a highly inclusive profession which values and supports everyone’s technical ability and contribution. As a young mum and engineer, I really have valued the culture and workplace Tetra Tech provide. When I was looking to return from maternity leave, I spoke with my manager about the support that I needed. Their response to each of my requests was “no problem”, and it’s this level of consideration to support working parents which will see more women and working parents continue their careers during those challenging ‘family raising years’.