Bridge not too far
Engineering a job solution
ENGINEERING is one of the least understood professions in the community, with about twothirds of Australians unaware of what engineers do in their jobs, research has found.
Social researcher Mark McCrindle found only 37 per cent of people have an understanding of engineering as a profession.
He found most people would recommend engineering as a career path despite not being able to describe what an engineering job would involve.
Yet Australians believe engineers will play an important role in solving water sustainability issues, building infrastructure, dealing with a growing population and tackling climate change.
The research was carried out for Engineers Australia to help identify why there is a shortage of engineers in the workforce and why fewer people study it at university.
Chief executive Peter Taylor says those who understood about engineering associated it with turning ideas into reality.
‘‘We want to lift the curtain on what it is engineers actually do,’’ he says.
‘‘We want to help Australians understand that from bridges to Blackberrys, drinking water to the water cube, engineers and engineering teams help make it so in the community.’’
Engineers work in a range of sectors, including food and agriculture, industrial, mechanical, software, transport, power generation and distribution, and coastal and ocean areas.
They solve problems, find new ways to do tasks, design products and infrastructure and plan how to address community demands for services and resources.
SA Water major systems service delivery manager Lisa Hannant says her knowledge of the profession was limited when she first considered it as a career.
But she pursued eningeering because of her strong analytical and logic skills and her talent and interest in maths and science.
‘‘One of the main reasons that I decided to study engineering was purely for the challenge,’’ she says. ‘‘I didn’t know a lot about the profession and I didn’t know any engineers to ask any questions.
‘‘I guess I viewed a typical engineer as someone who worked in an office and contributed to a design team.’’
Ms Hannant, 36, has previously worked as a field engineer and design engineer.
She now manages and leads the operations team responsible for several aspects of SA Water’s day-to-day operations.
She oversees the operation of its major pumping systems, including planning for water to be pumped from the River Murray to Adelaide’s reservoirs to meet the city’s water demands.
She also is responsible for the control centre which monitors regional water, waste water and treatment operations.
‘‘(Before starting my career) I never fully appreciated the variety of functions that engineers perform and the career opportunities that engineering can open up,’’ she says.
‘‘Engineering has provided me with opportunities to face constant challenges.’’
Engineers Australia has been running a competition to encourage people to try their hand at engineering by coming up with ideas to turn into reality.
Ideas so far have ranged from creating a device that turns off lights when people leave a room to making drivers alert to the cheapest fuel price in their area when the fuel tank runs low.
The Make It So competition allows ordinary people to submit their ideas. The final idea selected will be ‘‘made so’’ by an engineering team.
For more information, visit www.makeitso.org.au.
SA Water manager Lisa Hannant studied engineering ‘‘purely for the challenge’’.