Meet Hayden Grant-Ussher

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Job: 

Systems Engineer.

Job description: 

Consulting with people to determine the requirements of complex engineering systems.

Work background: 

I started as a Mechanical Engineer working design pump and pipe systems for New Zealand companies such as New Zealand Steel and Fonterra. This included designing wastewater treatment plants to treat dairy waste, and designing pumping systems to transport iron ore slurry. I recently shifted to a new team for a fresh start, and I am now working on the Wellington Smart Motorway.

Favourite part of job: 

Working with people, analysing complex problems, and getting things done.

Least favourite part of job: 

Working on major projects can be quite a high pressure and stressful environment.

What I am working on now: 

The Wellington Smart Motorway. My role involves working with the different users of the software system, such as the Operators and the Transportation Engineer to figure out what the system needs to do. For example:

  • How the Operator controls and Monitors the Smart Motorway
  • How the Transportation Engineer monitors the Smart Motorway’s performance, and tunes it to improve its performance.
A quick story about a job well done: 

One of my current projects is about testing the fire hydrants in Wellington City to check they meet fire firefighting requirements. I am working with Wellington Water to develop a procedure for the testing, and working through the 8000 fire hydrants to choose which 400 will be tested. This is quite a rewarding piece of work that will have an impact on my local community.

A (humorous) story about a job that went badly and what you learned: 

I was commissioning (setting up and configuring a plant once it had been built) a plant for Fonterra. A colleague and I were carrying out a pressure test on a large pipe to make sure it was strong enough. We filled the pipe with water under high pressure, and once we were sure it had no leaks we started to empty it. When we removed the cap, we underestimated how quickly the water would flow out. My colleague got absolutely saturated with about 100 buckets of water.

Qualifications: 
  • Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) in Mechanical Engineering, from the University of Canterbury
  • Master of Engineering Management, from the University of Canterbury
Interests outside work: 

I volunteer for Engineers Without Borders, who undertake development work for communities in the South Pacific and New Zealand. I play a lot of football, enjoy cooking, and I have a couple of dogs at home too.


Systems Engineer Hayden Grant-Ussher shows some of the work he has been doing on the smart motorway in Wellington. Image: LEARNZ.