With their expertise grounded in the endless world of problem-solving, engineers are well placed to make a positive impact on others. One UNSW engineering alumni member has made this her goal in life, already making a difference through her day-to-day work—but also through the fulfilling role of mentorship.

Lute Mundia graduated from UNSW in 2020 with a Bachelor of Engineering (Civil Engineering). Coming from Samoa, she is seeing the increasing impacts of climate change on local communities—and views civil engineering as crucial to the island nation’s climate response.

Lute has secured a position that ticks all of her boxes, working as a Site Supervisor on the upgrade of the port in the Samoan capital of Apia. Supported by the Asian Development Bank, the major project is vital for climate and disaster resilience. It aims to enhance the port’s resilience to serve as a ‘lifeline port’, carrying aid and emergency supplies in the aftermath of disasters in the region. The upgrade will also see increase the security of the port and enable a safer and more positive working environment for staff.

Lute says that her role is both varied and interesting.

“I am helping to oversee various aspects of the construction project, including on-site activities, and compliance with design, specifications and safety. I really enjoy the on-field aspects of it.”

Additionally, Lute is an active member of the Women in Engineering Society and has been a peer mentor to first-year female engineering students at UNSW. She says that her own experience at UNSW was overwhelmingly positive.

“The university provided ample opportunities for both personal and professional development. Whether through coursework or involvement in various clubs and societies, I found avenues to connect with like-minded peers who shared similar interests and goals. One aspect I appreciated was the university's international student-friendly environment, which made settling in much easier for me as an international student myself,” says Lute.

“The best part of being a mentor to first-year students was being in a position to help based on my own experiences, sharing tips or advice that might make the transition smoother. Mentorship also created a sense of community where students could comfortably seek support.”

Lute’s advice for emerging women engineers centres around authenticity.

“My advice is to pursue what interests you and to explore various industries and roles within engineering. Engineering is a diverse profession with opportunities for everyone, so pursue what you are passionate about and be open to trying new things.”

She herself says that one of the biggest lessons she has learned throughout her career is the importance of continuous learning and adaptability.

“I have realised that the industry is constantly evolving, with changes in systems, procedures, and technology,” says Lute.

“Being open to learning and adapting to these changes is essential for growth and confidence.”

Lute is finding her career path incredibly rewarding, aspiring to continue working in the civil infrastructure industry, focusing on projects that improve quality of life, surroundings, or operations. One day, she also hopes to establish educational outreach programs to inspire female students to be the next generation of leaders in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)—furthering the positive impacts engineers can have on vulnerable communities.