2021
YOUNG ENGINEER OF THE YEAR

Sponsored by MAS

A young engineer who has a passion for community, thrives on leading others and their work and makes New Zealanders’ lives better.

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FINALISTS

AKSHAT MALHOTRA

Beca

Akshat has a desire to leave a long-lasting ‘handprint’ on engineering. He’s driven to making a significant contribution to the industry and developing the next generation of engineers. 

Since joining Beca in 2015, Akshat’s transitioned to a leader among his peers, delivering major projects that involve multi-disciplinary engineering design. From SkyCity’s 313 room 5-star Horizon Hotel; University of Auckland’s 786 bedroom Waiparuru Hall; a 20,000m2 Engineering School for AUT, and a team base for the America’s Cup – the list continues to grow. 

Akshat leads a team of over 50 engineers and designers – often people older and more experienced than him. He’s successfully earned the respect of his peers and is a highly regarded leader.

He connects and engages with migrant engineers, helping them overcome language barriers and cultural differences. He helps create CVs and cover letters, assists in job applications and helps navigate potential career paths in a foreign country.

Akshat has proven himself successful at building relationships while creating a broad range of opportunities that contribute to New Zealand’s engineering profession. 

DANY RASSAM

Royal New Zealand Navy

Dany typifies what it means to be an engineering role model. He’s held key roles within the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) and has been recognised as an outstanding engineering officer. 

Dany displays the competence of an exceptional leader – managing engineering technicians, supporting operational ships, managing the weapon engineering school, and is second in charge of the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) junior officer induction course. 

Most notably, he was selected as the (Aide-de-Camp) Military Liaison Officer in 2019 for the Governor-General of New Zealand – an exceptionally high-profile role. 

At such an early stage of his professional career, Dany has shown extraordinary talent and has held positions well above his stage of development – from large scale project management roles to high profile engagement and leadership positions for the NZDF. 

He’s excelled in his achievements and the expectations of his supervisors and managers. He’s a leader, a role model, and constantly demonstrates his competence, while also helping develop young engineers and supporting students interested in STEM careers.

JESS ORPWOOD

WSP

Jess is a vibrant, dedicated and self-driven individual who embodies what it means to be an engineer. She's contributed to and influenced various successful projects, embeds herself in her community, and is highly respected. 

With just six years experience, Jess is already recognised as a future leader. Her decision to become a structural engineer goes back to her second day at Canterbury University when the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake struck. Seeing first-hand the consequences of inadequate structural design, she sought to become involved in the reform of structural design and building resilience. 

Jess’ focus on improving the quality of design and creating earthquake-resilient buildings has seen her develop innovative structural solutions. One example was using perforated steel plates between precast concrete panels, to act as a fuse to absorb and dissipate energy during an earthquake. This structural system turned standard precast concrete panel construction (which was often disregarded after the Canterbury earthquakes) into a well-performing, earthquake-resilient and cost-effective system – the first of its kind in New Zealand.

Actively involved in many organisations Jess is consistently advocating for good structural engineering practice and is not afraid to challenge the status quo.

JONATHAN CHAMBERS

Harrison Grierson

Jonathan is an environmental engineer and an outstanding young leader and communicator. Aged 26, his relentless enthusiasm and drive extend far beyond his specialist skills in flood hazard management, water sensitive urban design, community-scale climate resilience, and sustainability.

Deeply concerned about the impact of climate change and the growing wealth and wellbeing inequalities in Aotearoa, Jonathan believes its vital inter-generational perspectives be heard on challenging national issues. In 2019, aged 24, Jonathan was appointed to the Harrison Grierson Board as Emerging Director – a 12-month role only held previously by senior staff. His contribution has been significant.

Jonathan embeds integrated sustainability decision-making across the organisation and puts sustainability at the heart of design and advisory services. His work involves developing catchment management plans and flood models to understand the impact of new developments on people, property and the environment. 

He describes climate change as an existential crisis and believes young perspectives must be heard on this critical issue. Jonathan is committed to leading collaborative networks of young industry professionals and has connected thousands of people by hosting numerous industry events.