Engineers Australia 2016 Australian Engineering Conference
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. It is with great pleasure, as Governor of Queensland, that I warmly welcome all participants to the 2016 Australian Engineering Conference in Brisbane.
If quotable quotes about engineers are any guide, there seems to be an underlying respect for the work that you do.
As one who made something of a career in the law prior to my appointment as Governor, I had hoped that the same would be true for quotes about lawyers. I will say only that my hope was not entirely fulfilled.
Of those many positive references to engineers, I did enjoy, in a highly respectful way, the suggestion that when a pessimist says a glass is half empty, and an optimist says it is half full, an engineer says the glass is too big.
There we have, in a nutshell, a way of viewing the world that engineers bring to any challenge.
It is a viewpoint that is intensely practical, interested in the ‘how’ as well as the ‘why’, and in bringing any project, whether modest or daunting, to a successful conclusion.
It is the viewpoint that goes back to the builders of the Egyptian temples and pyramids, and to the Roman engineers who enabled the empire.
It is the viewpoint of those very early engineers who helped perfect materials such as glass, bronze, iron and, later, steel, polymers, and contemporary applications such as biomechanics and robotics.
It gave us this enormous yet flexible-use Convention and Exhibition Centre which, incidentally, has won 158 industry awards including, earlier this year, an award for the highest client rating of any convention centre worldwide.
As someone who has had the pleasure of officially opening water reticulation and waste-water facilities in regional areas of our State, I am highly conscious that engineers remain critical to the well-being of Queenslanders.
As a Governor who, along with my predecessors, has unveiled Engineering Heritage Markers in Queensland – from water towers to automatic totaliser systems – I am also aware of the critical role engineers have played in the progress and development our of State’s urban, regional and remote communities.
Nevertheless, I sympathise with the fact that much of the work of engineers may not be obvious or even visible.
One such example is the 215 million dollar restoration of Brisbane City Hall, completed in 2013.
At the time it was opened in 1930, the City Hall was the largest construction project in Australia after the Sydney Harbour Bridge. But even the best engineering knowledge and techniques of that era could not prevent its serious deterioration 80 years later.
The restoration was a massive undertaking. Yet much of the work is buried deep in the foundations, under the roof line, or hidden in wall cavities and is invisible to visitors. That does not make it any less of an engineering triumph!
The City Hall example also illustrates that the profession of engineering cannot stand still. Your program over the next three days confirms that Engineers Australia is anything but complacent on that score.
The conference program is peppered with references to innovation, to sustainability, to leadership. And the program is forward-looking, including a session on the professional needs of the next generations of engineers.
I thank Engineers Australia for organising this important conference. I thank the Board, National Congress, executive, constituent groups, and the membership of Engineers Australia for their roles in professional development, education, accreditation, and many other fields in which the organisation is active.
I wish all participants an enjoyable and professionally fulfilling conference that challenges and inspires you, and an enjoyable time in our capital city.