Introducing Engineers Australia’s incoming Victorian President Astrid Kauffman

Astrid Kauffman, incoming Engineers Australia Victorian President, shares her priorities in the role and her vision for Victoria's engineering profession in the years ahead.
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Astrid Kauffman

In 2021 Engineers Australia will welcome Astrid Kauffman to the role of Victorian President, bringing a wealth of volunteer and engineering experience to the position.

Astrid is a public sector professional engineer, mentor and risk manager and currently Manager, Delivery Safety at the Major Transport Infrastructure Authority (MTIA). She has qualifications in mechatronics engineering, business and strategic decision and risk management.

Astrid has served on the Engineers Australia Victorian Division Committee since 2018, after previously serving on the Victorian Branch Committees for the College of Leadership and Management and the Mechanical College.

After originally joining Engineers Australia as a way to remain connected to the profession after taking a role outside of an engineering organisation, Astrid describes her continuing involvement as a result of opportunities to work with great people, be exposed to interesting ideas and have an impact on issues that matter.

She is excited by the potential to solve complex public policy challenges using systems thinking – a passion which will serve her well in her upcoming role.

“The Victorian Division Committee has been pretty active over the last couple of years in both the STEM and public policy spaces, and I’m hoping that we continue to develop this into a fully-fledged two prong strategy moving forward”, said Astrid.

“To me, this brings two sides of the same coin together.

“Working in STEM is critical not just for building a diverse pipeline of future engineers, but also for winning hearts and minds in the community, humanising engineers and bringing them to the fore as a trusted voice on big issues like climate change, energy and infrastructure.

“The ability for Engineers Australia to construct well developed, well informed and agile public policy is critical to the benefit of the community.”

This aligns with Astrid’s recent experience Chairing an Engineers Australia and Infrastructure Australia Panel on Sustainability and Resilience in Infrastructure; an experience she is looking forward to bringing back to the Victoria Division.

“With a hat tip to Nadine Champion, it seems to me that so many of the engineers I meet have a pebble in their shoe, a passion, energy and knowledge about some issue, whether large or small”, she said.

“What the panel found is when we get those pebbles on the table and introduce fellow engineers with related pebbles, that we can build an even better response to the issue at hand.”

When looking at the road ahead for the Victorian engineering profession, Astrid sees three key priorities.

“Firstly, given the introduction of Engineering Registration into Victorian law, we need to engage with the development of regulations and then implementation to ensure the scheme is practical and delivers on its intended purpose”, said Astrid.

“Secondly, we need to think about how we recover from COVID-19: not just from an economic perspective, but how the profession can learn from this experience to improve resilience of our systems into the future, including supply chain security, availability of critical resources and technical experts and agility in the face of severe demand and operational shocks.

“Finally, I’m excited by the real energy in the profession to facing up to the challenge of climate change, particularly after summer’s bushfire events.

“I’m optimistic that we can leverage this energy into real action both in terms of reduction of greenhouse emissions and future proofing our infrastructure and systems.

“Imagine if we could combine our COVID-19 recovery with this climate change work!”

Astrid will commence as the Victorian President in 2021, when current Victorian Division Committee members Merrill Gray and Ross Kristinof will take over as joint Deputy Presidents.

Image: Supplied by Astrid Kauffman