New IPWEAQ Ambassador: Josh Flanders
Meet Josh Flanders, a Graduate Civil Engineer at Cairns Regional Council and second IPWEAQ Ambassador appointment.
Engineering for Public Works (EPW) spoke with Josh recently and are pleased to share this interview so you can get to know this impressive Young IPWEAQ member a little better.
Josh: I was born and raised in Cairns in Far North Queensland (FNQ). I am currently 22 years of age and have just finished my university degree last year.
EPW: Please tell us about yourself, where you’re from, your interests and what makes you tick.
I have a strong interest for engineering problem solving and love learning new skills. What motivates me is the aforementioned problem solving and striving to be the best I can be to complete work to the highest possible quality. I don’t like to disappoint and always like being occupied.
My most recent new skills acquired include unicycle riding and solving a Rubik’s cube in less than 20 seconds. I can also juggle and am now learning to somehow combine these three skills together all at once!
Living on an acreage I love the outdoors. I am an avid mountain biker and regularly ride mountain bike trails and cycle ways throughout both Cairns and Townsville. I am also an active member of the Cairns Ultimate Frisbee Club and the Cairns Squash Rackets Association playing both sports every week.
EPW: Please provide us with a short professional biography.
Josh: Going to school in the beautiful city of Cairns I quickly developed interests for physics, mathematics, and engineering (which was actually a subject at my school). After finishing high school and graduating with an OP 2 I had no doubts about what I was going to study at university. I undertook my first year of engineering at James Cook University (JCU) in Cairns where the problem solving topic of statics appealed to me the most. After this first year, I applied for and successfully received a cadetship with the Cairns Regional Council. This cadetship was for the duration of my university degree and promised work experience during all holidays as well as a guaranteed position of employment after graduation.
Continuing with a chosen major of civil engineering I relocated to the Townsville campus to finish off the degree. During this three-year time frame I thoroughly enjoyed the geotechnical, structural design and analysis, project management, transportation, concrete, and water subjects.
Living on campus at the JCU Halls of Residence the entire time, I developed many lifelong friends and became heavily involved in the college lifestyle. During my third and fourth year of university I was a residential assistant (RA) on college. This allowed me to develop higher leadership and motivational skills as well as management techniques, and team work and team building skill development.
Throughout university holidays, working as a cadet in a local government environment in the infrastructure planning section of the Cairns Regional Council I quickly gained professional competency in the field of civil engineering. I completed minor projects and developed experience in investigations, design, project management, asset management, and construction and maintenance. I also provided advice and support for problem solving matters through technical research and made appropriate recommendations to managers to ensure an effective and accurate service was given to customers.
I graduated from JCU in 2018 receiving a university medal with an overall GPA of 6.90. Satisfied with the skills learnt throughout my degree, I was eager to enter the full time working lifestyle as a graduate civil engineer at the Cairns Regional Council.
As part of my graduate program I undertake six-month rotations at different sections within the Infrastructure Services branch. Currently I am working with the construction team and gaining significant hands on construction experience as well as experience in construction estimates and cost monitoring on small to large projects. Other areas of my graduate program will include working with the design office as well as the pre-construction project management team. I am very eager to complete these rotations and gain as much experience as I can in these different sections to help me understand which aspect of local government engineering I would like to pursue as a career long term.
EPW: What do you find most satisfying about working as an engineer in public works?
Josh: When I was in high school, I had little knowledge about the engineering services public works professionals deliver to local communities. From managing the construction and maintenance of the road network, bridges, footpaths and cycle ways to undertaking projects relating to drainage and flooding to water and sewerage and parks and playgrounds. Providing and maintaining this infrastructure I believe is very important to the public.
From my relatively small time working as an engineer in public works, less than six months, I am already very satisfied by the contributions I have made and feedback received from the public. Currently working in the construction section and providing the services needed in due time and to a high quality gives me and the team I work with a sense of accomplishment. This is especially true when you can observe the general public using, enjoying and providing positive feedback on the projects you contributed towards.
EPW: Please tell us about your experience at the recent IPWEAQ NQ branch conference.
Josh: Having not attended any form of conference before, I was unsure what to expect. After attending the two-day event, I left questioning when my next conference experience would be! I had a fantastic time with the other delegates, and all the exhibitors and sponsors. Hearing the experience, innovations, local projects and stories from the various presenters provided me with great insight into what my future career has yet to develop into. Presentations such as the new tried and tested smart technology being used in the Cairns region spoken by Gary Everson (NQ Conference Best Paper winner, article on page 52), and the processes and challenges in delivering major infrastructure in FNQ through the Mt Emerald Wind Farm by Kim Forde were just some of the most memorable presentations witnessed.
I also presented a paper about the use of recycled waste glass as a replacement for cement and fine aggregate in concrete. This interesting topic was the subject of my final year thesis in 2017 where we undertook strength and durability testing on a total of eight different mix designs, as well as an investigation into the environmental and economic benefits of using this waste product in a construction material used in the billions of tonnes every year.
Preparing for and presenting at the conference was a very rewarding experience not only for my personal development and public speaking skills but also as I was able to spread the word about the possible advantages for resource recovery and waste reduction. This caught the eye of a few councils who have since approached me for consultation to trial waste glass in concrete in upcoming footpath projects.
I look forward to attending the IPWEAQ Annual Conference to be held on the Gold Coast in October where my presentation is also included in the conference program.
EPW: What do you hope to achieve in your role as IPWEAQ Ambassador?
Josh: I am very privileged to have been appointed the second IPWEAQ ambassador and am very keen to contribute to the community in this role. I believe in promoting the benefits of engineering in the public works sector especially to young individuals. As mentioned earlier in my youth I was unsure what public work engineers were. Ensuring high school students, current engineering students, and even recent engineering graduates are aware of the role they play in society is vital and I hope to achieve this through current and new initiatives of the Young IPWEAQ program. By promoting engineering to children and young people, awareness can be raised for career opportunities in engineering to inspire the next generation and generations to come.
I am also very interested in assisting the delivery of the 2018 Futures Challenge at the upcoming annual conference and am encouraging as many university students as I can to take part in this great opportunity.
With social media becoming a larger part of the younger generation, I believe a potential focus for promoting the message to young individuals could be greater social media interaction by IPWEAQ or public works in general.
Awards and honours
- Awarded the JCU University Medal, Mar 2018
- Awarded the Kevin Stark Memorial Prize in Environmental Engineering, Mar 2018
- Awarded the Port of Townsville Limited Prize in Engineering, Mar 2018
- Awarded the (ASI) Undergraduate Steel Design Award, Apr 2017
- Awarded the Steel Reinforcement Institute of Australia Prize, Apr 2017
- Professor Lal Chand Wadhwa Prize for Civil Engineering, Apr 2016
- College of Science, Technology and Engineering First Year Prize (Cairns), Apr 2015
- Member of the Golden Key International Honour Society, Jan 2015