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Helping to build our futureAdvertising Feature

DESIGNING THE FUTURE: Many new jobs in manufacturing are engineering-related. Photo: Shutterstock

Most people won't notice, but right now it's a great time to demonstrate how important engineering is for us to maintain our high standard of living.

For some, the bid by one of Australia's richest men to buy an energy company for the purpose of closing down coal-fired electricity generation is a sign that we're either mad or we are brilliant! It depends on your view about the role of wind and solar electricity, and how quickly we should move to a renewable energy future.

One thing is for sure though, engineering will be critical to our future. Designing our future with reliable and affordable electricity is something we engineers will have to do.

While the electricity generation and distribution network designed by Sir John Monash almost 100 years ago has served us well and enabled Victoria to build prosperity based on the cheapest electricity in the world, designing a future world with wind and solar electricity presents some very significant challenges. We need a new generation of bright engineers to undertake this seemingly formidable challenge.

However, there's more immediate things for we engineers to see and do right here in Bendigo.

We need to encourage our young people to choose an engineering career because we will rely on them to engineer our future.

- Chris Stoltz, La Trobe University

Take a look around and you'll see large multi-story concrete structures being built, railway works upgrading our rail lines and railway station, extensions to our beautiful White Hills Botanic Gardens, and new suburbs emerging on the city's fringes. To achieve all this we engineers have had to create new designs and devise ever more efficient and safer construction processes ... using modern materials and the latest innovations in artificial intelligence, computer science, and the Internet of Things.

What you can't see very easily is the silent transition taking place in our strong manufacturing sector. If you could see it, you would see computer science being used to better control our food processing production lines, you would see robots welding steel components to create railway bogeys, and you would see artificial intelligence being used to predict when equipment needs maintenance before it fails.

While manufacturing is thought to be dead by many, Bendigo's manufacturing and mining sector still contributes about 40 per cent to our overall economic output. And it is responsible for a large part of the region's workforce. Many of the new jobs in manufacturing are engineering-related, using technology to make our manufacturing more efficient and safer.

Bendigo is a great example of the role engineers are playing in designing and building our future. We need to encourage our young people to choose an engineering career because we will rely on them to engineer our future.

  • Chris Stoltz is the Professor of Practice - Engineering in the School of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences at La Trobe University.