Engineering for Public Works - Issue 22, June 2021

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YOUNG ENGINEER OF THE YEAR With the annual excellence awards closing 25 June, it is timely to review how past winners have progressed in their careers. Here’s an update on five Young Engineer of the Year award winners: Justin Fischer (2006), Darren Shepherd (2008), David Brooker (2010), Mitchel Bichel (2011) and Aaron Meehan (2017). Where are they now and how has the award contributed to their careers?

Justin Fischer | 2006 Career summary I started my career as Works Engineer at Laidley Shire Council in 2004. Working on a range of projects and challenges with some wonderful mentors like Gerry Franzmann and Mike Butcher really exposed me to a wide variety of what Local Government had to offer. When Lockyer Valley Regional Council was established in 2008, I found myself as Manager Road Infrastructure which included looking after the external workforce and project deliveries in the transport and parks areas. The 2011 Lockyer Valley floods presented a major challenge and opportunity and exposed me to a wonderful new team of consultants and contractors as we sought to restore the significant amount of infrastructure damaged during this event. I then decided to change things up and worked for Aurecon, predominantly on National


Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements and Coal Seam Gas related projects in Roma and Emerald. This was a great experience, and I enjoyed the time as a consultant but missed the ability to really be close to the community I was working for. In 2013 I moved with my young family to the Cassowary Coast, a naturally beautiful part of the world. The role I have has changed significantly over 7 years, which has definitely kept it challenging but provided great opportunities to grow and develop new skills. Council have really supported the application of asset management principles and have been demonstrating courage and leadership to take some long overdue, but necessary opportunities to transition to a more sustainable organisation. I have been blessed to work with such a wonderful team (including accountants J) and continually enjoy the opportunities I have to make our community a better place to live. Your current role and general responsibilities. Manager Asset Engineering – Cassowary Coast Regional Council. I look after the design, facilities, and asset management teams. Some recent projects of interest include the Tully Grandstand, Council asset rationalisation project and a major seawall upgrade at Flying Fish Point. We have also been working on developing principles and a framework for the use of council assets by community groups. This has been far from engineering work but most enjoyable as we seek to balance asset costs, community needs and wants in a transparent way.


The impact of the Award on your career. It was humbling to be recognised by my peers. It gave me great encouragement and confidence to continue within the industry. Any advice for upcoming young engineers. The world needs courageous people (including engineers) to apply their skills, minds, and hearts to make our communities better. Think about the people you are helping. While we can focus on a project, methodology or system from a technical perspective our real goal should be about making people’s lives better. Think about where the money is coming from, ensure that you really need to spend it and that it really adds value to the community. Reasons why organisations should nominate an emerging professional for this Award. There is such a genuine display of appreciation for someone’s skills and effort when you nominate them for an award. Your people will appreciate it. It also helps promote your organisation as a place where people are challenged, encouraged, and rewarded.