Why you should give thanks to an engineer you know today

Today is Global Day of the Engineer and Australians are being asked to thank an engineer for their contributions.

People have taken to Instagram to thank engineers for things like mobile phones, Google and Wi-Fi.

Global Day of the Engineer aims to celebrate the accomplishments of engineers and give the next generation of engineering students a chance to learn about the innovations possible in their field.

Engineers Australia chief executive Stephen Durkin, a civil engineer, told SmartCompany the achievements of Australian engineers should be celebrated.

“We think it’s really important that we work alongside the international engineering community to work along and celebrate the contributions of engineers and to share with the community at large some of the innovations engineers are involved in every day,” Durkin says.

Durkin has a number of personal favourites among the achievements of Australian engineers, including the cochlear hearing implant, the iconic hills hoist and the black box recorder.

He says the role of engineers will be increasingly important as the population in Australia continues to grow.

“Engineers will play a key role in terms of infrastructure planning,” he says.

“Part of why we’re wanting to reflect on the role of engineering because quite frankly we don’t have enough engineers for all the work coming in the next decades.”

Durkin is also keen to portray a more contemporary picture of engineers, with much of their work different than what the general public might imagine.

“The modern engineer is very much about innovation, creativity, teamwork and about leadership,” he says.

Engineers Australia is the peak body for engineering, representing more than 100,000 members across Australia.

Durkin says working as an engineer can be an exciting and rewarding experience.

“My advice would be that you can do some really exciting things in your career working as an engineer. You get to travel a lot, personally I’ve worked as an engineer in Canada and many parts of Asia,” he says.

Durkin says Engineers Australia have just opened a new chapter in the Middle East, with opportunities for students to work on projects overseas.


Here’s a list of 6 innovations made possible by Australian engineers

  1. The electric drill

Arthur James Arnot travelled from his home country Scotland to Melbourne to help build a power plant for the Union Electric company in 1889. That same year, he was awarded the patent for the electric drill.

  1. Cochlear implants

Invented by Professor Graeme Clark, the first cochlear implant was implanted in Melbourne man Graham Carrick in October 1982. After switching on he was able to hear for the first time in 17 years. Today the bionic ear restores hearing for thousands of people.

  1. Dual-flush toilet

In 1980, with $130 000 government assistance, Bruce Thompson, an employee at plastic company Caroma, developed a cistern with two buttons and flush volumes. Today the dual flush is used in more than 30 countries.

  1. Black box flight recorder

In the 1950s Dr David Warren, a scientist at the Aeronautical Research Laboratory in Melbourne, came up with idea for a machine that would record the voices and instrument readings in the cockpit of an airplane.

  1. The baby safety capsule

Baby capsules have been keeping newborns safe since 1984, when Bob Btell and Bob Heath developed the ‘Safe-n-Sound’ Baby Safety Capsule. It was designed to lock into a standard-sized car seat, and is still considered to be one of the safety child restraints on the market.

  1. Polymer banknotes

Polymer banknotes were first developed by the CSIRO in conjunction with the University of Melbourne and the Reserve Bank of Australia, and have been used since 1988. Polymer banknotes are harder to forge and are much better for the environment because they last longer than money made from paper.


Originally published on SmartCompany on February 24, 2016.