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Taking a critical look behind the facades

Sandro Mazzier has studied Energy and Environmental Engineering at the ZHAW School of Engineering. Today, he works for engineering firm Hunziker Betatech AG. As a project engineer in the structural engineering department, he inspects underground car parks, water treatment plants and public swimming pools.

The flower tiles on the walls clearly date back to the Seventies. Sandro Mazzier is standing in the bathroom of a flat in an old building, wearing a protective suit. The ZHAW graduate is a hazardous materials surveyor and inspects building components for the dangerous substance that is asbestos. “As long as it is bound in building materials, asbestos poses no danger,” he explains. However, this bathroom is set for renovation, which is why Sandro Mazzier and his colleagues are sampling the building materials. In this particular case, their focus is firmly on the tile cement. The samples they have collected will be sent to an accredited analytical lab. Based on the results, Sandro Mazzier will write a contamination report and draft a disposal concept. 

"Having chosen the specialisation in Sustainability and Technology  in my degree programme was one of the reasons why I went on to train as a hazardous materials surveyor," Sandro Mazzier remarks – he already completed his Bachelor’s programme in Energy and Environmental Engineering at the ZHAW in 2016. He says it means a great deal to him that his work not only benefits his company, but also the environment and society at large.

Specialist and methodological skills in demand

In his role as a project engineer, he mainly inspects building elements in underground car parks, water treatment plants and indoor swimming pools in der Winterthur and Zurich region as well as in Eastern Switzerland.

With the support of structural engineers, he assesses whether a steel girder carries more rust than weight, if the concrete is already crumbling and whether the building technology still works properly. Depending on the project, Sandro Mazzier and the Hunziker Betatech team accompany all stages of the construction planning process from the initial assessment of the building to the building work and the final inspection. He particularly enjoys customer contact and working with his colleagues: “We have all experts involved under a single roof, which means it’s easy to get hold of them. It also means we’re able to find solutions quickly, to the benefit of our customers,” Sandro Mazzier says. When it comes to advising customers, his having studied Energy and Environmental Engineering has been an excellent preparation for his current occupation. Sandro Mazzier’s profound familiarity with specialist terminology and his well-earned confidence are an asset. Looking back, he equally appreciates the specialist skills and the methodological skills he acquired during his studies. "I have learned to apply my knowledge effectively, to solve problems systematically and to think in terms of networks. What’s more, I have become even more environmentally conscious since I have started studying," he states. He also points out the importance of the Project Management module for his current job.

Using one’s education for the greater good

For the trained polymechanic, the wide range of skills and knowledge imparted in the Energy and Environmental Engineering programme were the key factor in his choice of discipline: “In the first years of study, you acquire basic technical skills, for example in electrical engineering and thermodynamics,” says the graduate. For the two concluding semesters, students select one of three specialisations. “I chose to specialise in Sustainability and Technology. I wanted to keep as many options open as possible – after all, being an engineer has many facets to it.” Sandro Mazzier recommends studying Energy and Environmental Engineering to anybody whose thinking is future-oriented and who appreciates variety in their curriculum: "I’m a technical all-rounder; my goal was to be able to use my education for the benefit of society at large - I clearly succeeded ."