Engineering our future

By Professor Greg Foliente, Infrastructure Engineering Enterprise Professor

“Engineers are problem solvers, innovators and builders who are helping to drive Victoria’s economic engine,” says Dr Collette Burke, Victoria’s inaugural Chief Engineer. For these and other reasons, I think that the world will be a better place in the future if people think and act like engineers.

Technological developments and the delivery and management of infrastructure and engineering assets underpin the economies and societies of the world. In Australia, the infrastructure spend pipeline is around $80 billion dollars. And over the next 30 years in Victoria alone, the estimated strategic investments is also in the region of $80 billion.

The immense environmental, social and economic value that engineering and allied areas bring to the state are highlighted in the Victorian State of Engineering Report, which was recently released. An initiative of Victoria’s Chief Engineer, the report finds that engineering-enabled industries are responsible for more than 600,000 jobs and contribute nearly a quarter of Victoria’s gross state product.

In a fast-changing and even uncertain future, collaborative partnerships are essential. We will continue to work with the Chief Engineer and others to build Victoria’s and the nation’s future through engineering education, research and innovation, and practice.

The engineering sector will continue to be a significant contributor to our economy and society, and is widely seen as increasingly important into the future.

In order to find solutions to society’s grand challenges, the University of Melbourne has committed almost $1 billion to expand the Melbourne School of Engineering (MSE) to create a world-class engineering school for the 21st century. The significant financial investment includes Melbourne Connect and a new, seven-hectare campus at Fishermans Bend.

This strategic investment represents a platform for engagement and collaboration with government, industry and the wider community. With these new facilities and the involvement of Enterprise Professors like myself with significant industry R&D background, the University is exploring new ways of working, with a focus on knowledge pooling and sharing. We want to stimulate innovation ecosystems and create broader and deeper impact opportunities.

A new era of collaboration with the Chief Engineer’s Office

Appointing Victoria’s Chief Engineer has provided a new focal point for collaboration between Victorian government, industry, professional associations and universities like ours; uniting us all with a common goal to advance engineering education and practice locally.

The State of Engineering Report is the first product of such collaboration. Several MSE academics and Enterprise Professors contributed wide ranging content and case studies, including the applications of information and communication technologies in sectors spanning medical, manufacturing, transport, infrastructure and cities.

The report has highlighted how engineers positively influence every part of our lives and contribute richly to our economy. With further support, together we will be able to deliver an even more livable, cleaner, advanced and efficient Victoria with a positive legacy for future generations.

Further Chief Engineer’s initiatives that will strengthen the engineering professions and projects in Victoria are underway. For example, we are also currently working with the Chief Engineer, the Office of Projects Victoria and other organisations to develop the Victorian Digital Asset Strategy.

In a fast-changing and even uncertain future, collaborative partnerships are essential. We will continue to work with the Chief Engineer and others to build Victoria’s and the nation’s future through engineering education, research and innovation, and practice.