People Spotlight, Water

Our People Spotlight series gives you an inside look at our technical experts around the world. This week, we are highlighting a designer from our Water business line in Canada and providing you insight into his design inspiration and work.

Nicolas Andraos is a structural engineer in Montreal, Canada working on hydroelectric and transmission & distribution projects. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering in 2015 from École Polytechnique de Montréal and is currently pursuing his Master’s degree. In his six years at AECOM, he’s had the opportunity to work on several major energy infrastructure projects across the globe.

What inspired you to join the industry? I grew up surrounded by engineers who helped me discover the engineering field at an early age. When I was young, I was fascinated by large structures such as skyscrapers, bridges, and dams. At school, I quickly realized that the subjects that most interested me were focused on science. This ultimately led me to follow a career in civil engineering. During my undergraduate studies, I had the chance to work on a variety of projects, one of which focused on designing a hydroelectric development. This project sparked my interest in energy infrastructure, which I was able to explore further when I joined AECOM and was given the opportunity to work on other hydro- and energy-related projects.

What is your favorite AECOM project that you’ve worked on and why? I’ve had the opportunity to work on many unique projects of varying complexities: the detailed design of a hydroelectric powerhouse in Rwanda, the detailed design of transmission line towers in Canada and Australia, and the rehabilitation of existing structures such as dams, bridges, and buildings across Canada. I’ve also had the opportunity to participate in field testing of transmission line towers in India. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed each of these assignments and the challenges that came with them but if I had to choose my favorite one, it would be the rehabilitation of the Charlo River Dam in New Brunswick, Canada. Our team worked on finding an innovative solution to an erosion problem, which was causing instability of the structure at the toe, or base, of the dam. I was challenged to think outside the box and to come up with a solution that’s not typically encountered every day. The satisfaction of finding appropriate strategies to atypical problems while respecting various limitations such as environmental or heritage constraints, is why I enjoyed working on this and other rehabilitation projects the most.

Tell us a story of how your work positively impacted the community. I was involved in the detailed design of an 80 MW hydroelectric power plant bordering the Kagera River between Rwanda and Tanzania in Africa. The dam was built on the river with the power plant in Tanzania and the diversion tunnel and the substation in Rwanda. Among the many benefits of this green energy solution, this project will enable cooperation and trade between Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania by strengthening the regional power interconnection between the three countries.

Is there a piece of career advice you’d like to share? Don’t be afraid to take on new challenges early on in your career. These new experiences will allow you to develop new skills and will help you better discover your strengths and weaknesses and give you a better understanding of what you truly like and dislike.

Nicolas Andraos

Originally published Jun 17, 2021

Author: Nicolas Andraos

Nicolas Andraos is a structural engineer, specializing in hydroelectric and transmission & distribution projects. He is based in Montreal, Canada