YiLei Ying Yang MSc Environmental Management with Waste Management, Class of 2006

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YiLei Ying Yang

It is striking how enthusiastically YiLei Yang discusses her work as an Engineer for Dutch company Grontmij, and she credits a work placement set up for her while studying for a Masters degree at the former University of Paisley (now UWS), as directly leading to her current position.

YiLei, who previously gained her BEng Chemical Engineering from the Beijing Institute of Petrochemical Technology, was preparing her dissertation at the end of her MSc Environmental and Waste Management, when the exciting opportunity arose.

“I really needed some industrial experience as part of my Masters degree, so when my supervisor Dr Jennifer McQuaid-Cook, notified me about a summer contract with Weir Engineering Services (WES), I was very interested. I worked as a Contract Engineer for Gap Analysis projects leading to WES successfully obtaining certifications. This invaluable experience was the first step achieved in my future career.”

YiLei is quick to praise the welcoming friendly atmosphere in the Sciences Department, when discussing which aspects of her studies at the University, she enjoyed most. She said: “My lecturers and classmates were very friendly. I especially enjoyed the fact that we were taught using lecturers, as well as, specially invited guests from industry with considerable experience in a range of industries.”

A Graduate Engineer with Grontmij, the third largest engineering consultancy in Europe, with nearly 9,000 professionals; YiLei works on waste water treatment process design for various water utilities companies, including Scottish Water, Wessex Water, United Utilities, Northumbrian Water and Yorkshire Water.

YiLei is clearly committed to her job, she describes the excitement she feels about the start of every new project saying: “Resolving problems is one of the most fulfilling aspects of being an engineer and it feels good to see we can make a difference. I’m proud of applying innovative technology to the process optimisation work I recently carried out on water treatments, which received very positive comments. On that project there was potential for the client to make significant financial savings and because of the success of the project, I secured the workload for the second stage of the project, which was a very significant achievement for me personally.”

An example of this was a project she undertook for Scottish Water, which looked at new technologies such as electro-coagulation. YiLei said: “It showed obvious advantages – saving money and chemicals and dramatically reducing the time needed for operators.”

Since being employed with Grontmij, she has gained engineering experience in process, water quality and modelling for water industries. The main objective on these projects is to design the treatment ensuring that they have the capacity to treat the sewage properly and to achieve the required quality standards, when they are released into the environment.”

Her efforts have been recognised by her employers who have championed her innovative case study ‘Auto-coagulation and Electro-coagulation assessment’, putting it forward for the *CIWEM World of Difference Award.

These days, Yilei liaises extensively with suppliers, contractors and third parties and coordinates with multi-disciplinary design teams from multiple offices. “I’ve learned that every small step matters. My combined previous experience of university study and working as an engineer has given me the opportunity to continuously develop my professional and personal skills. I am a much more mature engineer now, carrying out designs independently and confidently.”

In her active social life, YiLei crams in a wide variety of hobbies from singing and dancing to outdoor pursuits that incorporate her love of winter sports like skiing, snowboarding and ice skating. She loves her hill-walking club, the Fachan Hill Walkers, who step out at least once a month into the mountains around Scotland. “It all helps to keep life very interesting and active!” says Yilei.

*The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management

This profile was first published in 2015

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