Quick Chat with EA's 2017 Awards Recipients

We sit down for a chat with a number of outstanding individuals who were recently recognized at our Individual Awards held on Thursday, 5th October.
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Quick Chat with EA's 2017 Awards Recipients

Engineers Australia Sydney Division recently recognised a number of outstanding individuals at the Individual Awards held on Thursday, 5th October.

We sat down for a Quick Chat with these outstanding individuals to find out a little more about them.

The winners are as follows:

Thorsten Trupke - 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year (full interview here)

Wes Johnston - 2017 Bradfield Award for Practice of Engineering recipient (full interview here)

Jason Johnston - 2017 Engineering Student of the Year (full interview here)

Kamal Laha - 2017 Professional Engineer of the Year (full interview here)

Sarah Zhang -  2017 Young Professional Engineer of the Year (full interview here)


What is the most challenging or interesting project you’ve ever worked on?

TT: The journey of taking PL imaging from a “wild idea”, via detailed proof of concept studies at UNSW through to a high end commercial product, the latter manufactured by our own company in Australia has been an exciting and at times extremely challenging ride.

WJ: I have memories of all the Projects over the years. But if I had to pick one, it would be the Esso West Tuna and Bream B Oil Rigs, back in 1996, in the Casting Basin in Wollongong. This was one of the first Construction Projects I worked on, the first Concrete Gravity Oil Rigs ever built in Australia. The sheer scale of these was immense, West Tuna 90m x 60m in plan, 60m high, a floating concrete mass weighing 320,000t.

The slipforms were controlled by a few Danish, who come off the Troll Platform in Denmark, another Concrete Oil Rig. But it was an incredible 1.5 hectares in plan, 480m high, and 1.2million tons of floating concrete. That made me realise the opportunity and potential of Engineering and Construction in Australia, it was an open book to how challenging and innovative we wanted to be.

KL: Challenging or interesting is different depending on countries, but most significant project is on the basis of reducing energy at Macquarie Generation – Bayswater Power Station – Installation and commissioning of 5Nos 23/500kV 420MVA Step UP Generator Transformers replacing existing 23/330kV.


Why are you an Engineers Australia member?

JJ: Engineers Australia provides a great platform to be included within the wider engineering community and access to professional development opportunities to enhance further my career.

KL: It is very important to be a member of professional institutions to connect internationally for knowledge. Kamal had to migrate to Australia for sons’ education as Zimbabwe reviewed education authority to local. Kamal visited Canberra to evaluate certificates before migration. IEAust selected Kamal as MIEAust 1987on the basis of his degree, FIE(I) and SMIEEE as well as experience of 24 years that time and position of Chief Electrical Engineer.

SZ: Engineers Australia is an internationally recognised institution. Belonging to the institution is especially helpful for me, since my projects are often in different states or countries, being a member of Engineers Australia provides me credibility, and gives my clients assurance that I am skilled and capable of undertaking the project.


If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you like to have with you?

WJ: Bear Grylls, cause I’m pretty sure I’d make it off the island. His survival skills are awesome, although his culinary skills somewhat daunting.

JJ: All I would need is a hammock, some good music, and a six pack of cold beer.

KL: A knife, one navigational compass and inflatable raft with rows.

SZ: Books, timtams and a plane – so that I can leave the island to buy more timtams when I run out.


What do you see as one of the biggest issues facing the engineering profession?

TT: Getting young people motivated and excited about engineering, which includes creating attractive job prospects in Australia.

WJ: NSW and Victoria are experiencing unprecedented levels of Infrastructure works requiring skilled Engineers and Leaders with experience in delivering large and complex projects. With this demand, the competition to secure them grows. There’s a risk we end up with people in leadership roles that have limited real life experience, and this can be problematic. Having worked through the recent boom in QLD and WA, the exact impact this had on projects remains largely silent, as we tend to promote the successes only. 

KL: Reducing energy usage.

SZ: Being an avid advocate for encouraging females to study engineering and stay in the industry, I see the current under-representation of women in engineering as a big issue. Supporting and maintaining a stronger female presence within the engineering industry will help futureproof the industry. Having diversity within the profession and industry will enable more creativity to occur, which leads to the generation of different solutions to problems.


If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpower to be?

Foresee the future.

JJ: Selective mind reading

SZ: Flying – travelling would be so, so much easier, and quicker.


What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

WJ: It might sound strange to many, but spending time at home with the wife and our menagerie of animals. We’ve been together for over 20 years, and most of those I’ve spent working away from home. Construction is a hard industry, but having a stable home base to return to is important for us, and something we both value. 

JJ: I enjoy bush walking, video gaming, and spending time with friends.

KL: Taking our little grandsons to local library and bush walking to local reserve to educate about nature.


Who is your hero?

WJ: My mum and dad. They lived in the Hawkesbury Region of NSW all their life, and ran the dairy farm for 50 years. The traditions and old fashion values, I still treasure. And it was them that taught me to never give up, there’s a solution to everything, you’ve just got to find it, and if you get stuck, get help, find it together.

KL: Swami Vivekananda, a chief disciple of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, introduced Hinduism at the Parliament of the World's Religions in Chicago in 1893 and founded Belur Math in 1897.


What makes you laugh?

TT: Many things, including my family, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, Jim Carrey

WJ: You can get a laugh out of most things, and I think you need to do that every day, it’s a good thing. But nothing beats, the annual migration to the HOG Rally with my friends. It might be all serious at work, but when we get on our Harleys and head off together on these trips the jokes, jives, and rants is endless.

SZ: Everything and anything – my colleagues all know that I will laugh at everything and anything.