Very few people know what engineers do. News reports might give the impression that engineering is all about hard hats and hi-vis vests. For example, when they see engineers at mining sites, the Melbourne Metro tunnel project, or the level-crossing removal projects. But the reality for most engineers is quite different. The field is diverse and exciting.
Design engineers work on a wide range of projects using computer models; biomedical engineers design and fit aids to help people overcome a disability or injury; environmental engineers work out how to reduce waste and design for a future impacted by climate change; and agricultural engineers work out how to make our farms more productive and sustainable.
One field of engineering very few people have heard of is forensic engineering. These engineers are often tasked with finding out what went wrong when there's been an accident. For example, why did a section of the West Gate Bridge collapse; why did people get killed when a racing car ran out of control at the Grand Prix; why did someone lose a foot at a brick works whilst stacking bricks; or why did Apollo 13 explode shortly after lift-off?
Often these questions have to be answered during a court case or coroner's inquest, and forensic engineers need to defend their findings to a judge or jury. They are expert witnesses. While this is not a role for the faint-hearted, it is challenging and highly rewarding.
To become a forensic engineer or ergonomic engineer or agricultural engineer or even a fire engineer doesn't mean you have to leave home and seek out an engineering course with that exact name.
Mostly it means undertaking one of the more common engineering courses, such as civil engineering or industrial engineering, and choosing elective subjects and work experiences in that specialty field.
La Trobe University in Bendigo offers high-quality engineering courses, with work-integrated-learning opportunities, and diverse elective subjects, that put graduates onto the path to becoming a career-ready engineer in a range of fields.
La Trobe University, together with Engineers Australia, is especially keen for young women to study engineering. But careers in forensic engineering, biomedical engineering and environmental engineering? Now that's exciting! Engineering is for people who want to work in innovative and rewarding ways, to ultimately make a difference in the world.
Time to make a difference