Forging a new path
Caleb Green was flying high as a pilot until illness forced a change in direction. He’s maintained his involvement in aviation – and branched out into other forms of transport – in his new career as a Civil Engineer.
Sometimes I’ll pass a cul-de-sac that nobody else would look twice at, and I can say to myself, ‘That’s mine!’
There is a mathematical streak that runs through all of Caleb Green’s employment choices – croupier at Dunedin Casino, professional poker player in London, pilot and flying instructor for Mainland Air – and now, Civil Engineer for the engineering consultancy, Beca.
His civil engineering career may never have come about, however, if not for some significant and life-changing developments. Two bouts of cancer in the space of two years brought all of the challenges of serious illness, and also ended his flying career.
I lost my medical certification because, even though I’m well now, I have to take pills every day for life. It was tough at the time, and I felt very lucky to have a supportive family. It absolutely changed my perspective on life.
Soon after he finished treatment, Caleb went to university and completed a mathematics degree.
“I had been to uni straight out of high school and didn’t finish,” he notes. “This time, I was determined to come out with a degree – I wanted to see something through.”
When he graduated, his love of practical work meant he “didn’t want to get into finance or anything like that”. So he enrolled in a New Zealand Diploma in Engineering (Civil) at Otago Polytechnic, and thanks to his degree, he was able to complete the qualification in one year instead of the usual two.
A lot of people don’t know what Civil Engineering is, but it’s about creating the unglamorous but necessary infrastructure. The three main branches are transport, water and structure.
After securing a job with Beca before he’d even finished his studies, Caleb now works in the transport space.
“Up to 70% of my time is spent on transport design – things like roads, footpaths, carparks, grading plans for subdivisions,” he says. “The rest of my time is spent on construction monitoring. The project may not be something I’ve designed, but I’ll go out and make sure the contractors are building it to right specs.”
With his piloting background, Caleb has been particularly excited to work on airport projects in Melbourne and Brisbane.
“At Melbourne Airport, they were building two new runways, so we had to 3D model all the pits, ducting, lighting and electricity,” he says. “There were about 200 of us working on that project.”
As for career aspirations, Caleb is still deciding which path he wants to take.
Given my history, I really enjoy the work at airports. Another option is to tend towards the project management side of things, which I also like.
When he’s not working, Caleb spends a fair amount of his time running and playing hockey.
He can also be found getting stuck into DIY at his house, where he lives with his partner and her young daughter. He’s enjoying introducing his youngest housemate to some cultural touchstones.
“At the moment, we’re getting into Star Wars and Dragonball Z which is great fun – I’m not sure which of us is enjoying it more!”
They've made it theirs - now make it yours!
Develop a sound knowledge, understanding and practical appreciation of civil engineering processes and theory, and an ability to apply your learning in a practical and innovative way. Plus, this programme is free for domestic students due to the Government's Targeted Training and Apprenticeship Fund (TTAF) (although you'll need to pay for any additional course-related and living costs).