Public works conference not just about jobs on the ground

Article image - Public works conference not just about jobs on the ground Director of Infrastructure City of Monash, Victoria, Ossie Martinz, was presented with the prestigious Public Works Leadership Medal 2019 from Engineers Australia President Trish White.

If you walked on a footpath, drove down a street, crossed a bridge or visited a council building today, it’s because teams of public works professionals had been there in the past, to plan, design, build and upgrade everything you need to get around in safety.

On August 25, hundreds of indispensable experts, who keep daily life running smoothly in large and small communities, arrived in Hobart for the International Public Works Engineering Australasia (IPWEA) 2019 International Public Works Conference.

Held every two years in a different city, the five day conference, hosted by the public works sector peak body, brought technical, engineering, management and others from government and private enterprise together with suppliers and contractors to share knowledge about developing and maintaining
sustainable infrastructure.

However, if you’re thinking ‘pot-holes and pathways’, IPWEA President, Mat Greskie, wants you to think again.

“Today, the scope of public works engineering expands well beyond those coalface jobs visible at street level.”

The IPWEA has eight divisions spanning all Australian states, New Zealand and Canada. President of the Tasmania Division, Paul Breaden, said hosting the 2019 event provided an opportunity for Tasmanians to attend an international standard event in their own backyard, and to showcase Hobart and Tasmania to interstate and international visitors.

Six keynote speakers shared the latest in engineering education and careers, outsourced citizen services, waste market dynamics, road surfacing using recycled materials, and circular economy principles.

Delegates heard about smart lighting controls, smart construction, driverless vehicles, the role of drones in making inspections, and virtual parking systems.

Young IPWEA is the branch of the institute for engineers aged under 35. Representatives of YIPWEA presented a stream of sessions about their workplace achievements and the career opportunities available in a field currently experiencing critical skill shortages.

Senior Engineer Strategic Asset Management at TasWater, Adela Parnell, is a YIPWEA member and is also on the IPWEA Tasmania committee and its secretary. She presented a session about TasWater’s new professional development initiative, where head-office workers are sent to ‘spend a day in the shoes’ of a waste water worker in the field.

A highlight of the event was the IPWEA Australasia Awards for Excellence, a formal ceremony recognising the commitment and talent of members of the field for their successful work.