【International Voices in NTUCE】(EP03) Beyond Blueprints: A Structural Engineer’s Journey Until Managing Taoyuan Airport Project

Interviewer May Lin in front of NTU library on her graduation da

By Jiwon Byoun



Hi, can you briefly introduce yourself?

My name is May Lin.c I did my Master’s degree in Structural Engineering at National Taiwan University. After graduation, I have worked in TY Lin (Engineering firm which designs infrastructure solutions) as a project engineer for Taoyuan Airport Terminal 3. I am currently working on programming an integrated information search program for TY Lin.

What is it like to work in Taiwan?

I think the working environment in Taiwan is quite good. There wasn’t much difference between Korea and Taiwan. However, in Korea, there is a culture where team members would go out and eat dinner together during or after a project ends. I sometimes miss these company dinners.

I know that you have worked on a project related to Taoyuan Airport Terminal 3, in TY Lin. Why did you choose to work on this project ?

I have heard about TY Lin through my professor in NTU. As soon as I heard about the airport project  , I felt a strong urge to apply for this project. There are several reasons I wanted to work on an airport project. One of the reasons was because I thought there wasn’t much opportunity to work on a huge scale and unique project like an airport project. These uncommonly big projects need the right timing to be able to work on so I took the chance right away. Another reason I selected this project was because I thought I would learn a lot by working with a variety of people. These huge projects would include multiple companies and specialties. I believed that through the project I would learn and gain experience from the people involved in the project. As I worked, I was able to successfully learn from people around me. There were people from all kinds of fields gathered for the project, giving me the opportunity to gain experience from others. I was also satisfied to use my knowledge of specialties.

What was your role for the Taoyuan Airport project?

Before we get into my role, I would like to simply show the basics of how airport construction works. Different roles in a construction include a construction company, design consulting company, project management consulting company and the building owner which funds the project. TY Lin was the project management consultant. Even though the construction company has basic knowledge for construction, whenever professional knowledge is required or the building owner has some request they would have to go through the consulting company. So when a plan is made by the construction company, it has to go through the construction company and design company. If there were any questions or problems from the construction company they would ask for approval from the consultant company. My team’s role was to give general consulting suggestions and examinations on documents from construction company and design consultant has written. If there are any problems, I would have to send it back and instruct where to fix it. If there were not any problems then it would go to the building owner for final confirmation. Our main job was to confirm and do a final examination of documents.

What were some difficulties you have faced in the field and how did you overcome them?

When I was working in a structure engineering company in Korea, one of my jobs was to reinforce old school buildings. Since the buildings were old, there was not enough data or construction plans that we could look through to plan our reinforcement of the building. It was quite difficult because without exactly knowing about the foundations of the buildings would lead to crucial construction failure. Our solution was to evaluate nearby buildings and refer to buildings that were built at that time.  By looking at the construction or design pattern of the era you can approximately estimate the construction method of the current building we were working on. There were also some guidelines related to statistics telling us what to do when information is insufficient. Examples like you should consider how much of a safety factor. In addition, we would measure the size of the school. Then find where and how many  columns there are. Then we would have to draw our plan of the building again by ourselves. Because we don’t know how many reinforced bars are in the concrete. We would use special devices to find where the rebars were located. Next we would estimate how many rebars were used through 3D modeling and evaluation of the performance. After all of this process then we would write a report listing where to reinforce and the effects after reinforcement. Overall, we had an experienced senior engineer with a lot of that guided us through the process.

Is there anything else you would like to say to our students who want to pursue a career in civil engineering?

I firmly believe that the most crucial skill set for an engineer is adept problem-solving. Maintaining a mindset of resilience and perseverance is paramount, particularly when confronted with diverse projects that may lack explicit guidelines. I encourage students to embrace varied experiences, whether within their major or beyond. Even seemingly unrelated opportunities can yield valuable insights and skills. I would recommend trying everything whenever you have a chance. It does not have to be related to your major. These new experiences could be a school club, project or even learning a new skill like programming. Some opportunities might seem time consuming and waste of time, however when you faithfully finish your role then someday there will be a time for your hard work to shine. Even Though it is not a job that you wanted, try to be optimistic. In addition, most students in university might have worries about what kind of job or certificate I should achieve for the future. However, do not worry too much. As long as you have a broad view of what you want to do, then the specifics would come to you as you gain more experience and learn about yourself.

A photo of her in Taoyuan Airport construction site