Only just graduated, Eliah Mallants tells about his experience as a new professional engineer.
In terms of sustainability, more needs to be done than insulating buildings and installing solar panels on our roofs. By closing energy, water, material and mobility cycles, we are preparing our buildings for a future.
Driven by sustainability
I've always been interested in very different subjects. Technology, design, history,... So I spent a long time hesitating about what I wanted to study: architect or engineer? The course in engineering - architecture was the perfect fit. What I liked about the master's programme was that we were given a lot of freedom of choice and were able to specify our own accents. I was allowed to choose my thesis subject completely freely and decided to study 'circular building', a sustainability strategy that looks beyond energy efficiency. I was so absorbed by the subject that I wanted to explore it further after my studies.
First work experience
My first professional experience was at Pixii, the passive house platform, where I wrote their first training on circular building. I worked on disseminating knowledge among architects and engineers, but a more ambitious energy transition is also underway at the policy level. Due to a lack of practical experience, I decided that I wanted to get more in touch with concrete projects before I wanted to take this step.
VK Architects & Engineers
At the beginning of this year I started as a project engineer in the Sustainable Design department at VK Architects & Engineers, an architecture and engineering firm where I feel completely in my element. With a multi-faceted diploma in your pocket, you can go in any direction, so I didn't necessarily have to go start in an architectural office, I could begin anywhere in the construction sector. At VK they have a professional team that shares my passion for sustainability. It also gives me the opportunity to test my knowledge on innovative, large-scale projects, often with international players.
Both for myself and for the entire company applies that we can not relax. If you work at the cutting edge, you have to keep up with all the developments. This applies doubly to a theme such as sustainability, which is in full transition. So I keep on learning which makes the work varied and I enjoy myself. In a way, I see this as a continuation of my education, but then paid and without exams!
On the one hand, my job is to assist building teams in obtaining the BREEAM label, an internationally recognised certificate for the greenest buildings. On the other hand, for competition projects, we look at what ambitions we are going to put forward in terms of sustainability. I am responsible for the theme of 'circular building', which has to do with closing raw material cycles. I compare the environmental impact of materials, whether they are suitable for reuse and how we will eventually apply them in a design. It is of crucial importance to work with all disciplines in an integrated way. Architecture, structure, façade, techniques, ... If we each start doing our own thing, it will go wrong.
VK does not only offer all these disciplines, internally knowledge is also exchanged at fixed times. We then share knowledge about a certain theme, or practical experience gained during one of our projects. In this way, you will ultimately achieve a successful end result. I am convinced that it is thanks to this holistic approach that VK is able to leave its mark on the built environment.
Passing on knowledge
Once I have more practical experience under my belt, I hope to be able to pass this knowledge on. Frustrating as they sometimes were, I see myself in the architecture workshops of the Plateau one day, in order to pass on my passion for design. I hope for everyone who graduates from our faculty, that they can turn their fascination into a living and in the process also help their fellow human beings. In Japan they call it ikigai, look it up.
Source : AIG