| 01 December 2021

Western Sydney University graduation

Dr Bronwyn Evans AM, Engineers Australia CEO

I’m honored to be here to speak to you today and share this moment on your journey. It is a remarkable position you are in because of your hard work and dedication. Congratulations.

Your engineering qualifications give you the opportunity to operate across disciplines and across professions to create, innovate, and problem-solve.

I think Australian musician and actor Tim Minchin was right when he said,

Don’t make the mistake of thinking the arts and sciences are at odds with one another. That is a recent, stupid, and damaging idea. The arts and sciences need to work together to improve how knowledge is communicated.’

I would suggest there is more to explore in this idea, particularly for us as engineers, because engineering sits at the point where art meets science.

Engineering will change the world,

maybe in a small way.

Perhaps in a big way.

You might save the planet or you might spend your professional lives doing what engineers do the world over, working to advance society.

Whatever your role, you will make the world a better place and I commend you on the choices you have made that have brought you here today.

Another quote by Tim Minchin,

‘Don’t take for granted your education. Rejoice in what you have learned, and spray it.’

I interpret this as an invitation to help the people around you with your knowledge and insights.

Be willing to hear their ideas and let them voice their views, even if - especially if - they differ from your own.

Questioning our own opinions helps us appreciate the nuance in the views of others and strive for an exchange of ideas.

This is how we build consensus and cohesion, how we identify the things that we have in common rather than focusing on how we are different.

And this is how we collaborate effectively. It’s the only way we can hope to succeed at meeting the significant challenges we face as a society:

  • climate change
  • poverty
  • pandemics
  • global unrest.

As articulated in the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Current estimates call for an extra 100,000 engineers Australia-wide to cover proposed projects out to 2030, in an era when we’re barely generating enough graduates to replace those who are retiring from the profession. You are an important resource.

So, I urge you to pursue your passion, but not at the expense of making space for joy in your life.

Our working lives are full of deadlines and expectations and, as engineers, we often put pressure on ourselves to deliver perfection in a field where clarity and accuracy are vital.

But if we let the joy go out of it – if we forget the reasons we were drawn to engineering in the first place – we risk losing our edge as innovators, as creative problem solvers.

Don’t let that passion dim. Stay curious, playful even, and don’t diminish the importance of the small wins as you keep your eyes on your big, bold goal.

And always keep learning – this is one of the many enduring gifts from your degree – the ability to learn and be curious. This is how you will change the world.

Best wishes in your careers.