How do you build an Engineering career that others envy?

Simon Roberts

Good luck and good timing, along with a bit of grit and determination, according to Simon Roberts (BEng (Civil)(Hons)/LLB(Hons)). Well, that’s what landed him his first job out of university anyway, as a Water and Wastewater Engineer at Interconsult Zimbabwe. Anyone with an adventurous streak, eat your heart out.

From there, Simon headed back to Australia where he now works at E2Designlab as an Integrated Water Management and Water Sensitive Urban Design specialist. Let’s break that down…

In his Integrated Water Management role, Simon looks at the big picture, exploring how to make the most of all streams of water. Drinking water, stormwater, rainwater, greywater, sewerage and groundwater. We do a detailed analysis of several different servicing strategies, such as modelling of performance, quantification of benefits, financial analysis, and consideration of risks, explains Simon. Strategy development also relies on buy-in from stakeholders so we focus on maintaining good communication and holding engaging workshops.

His work in Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) focuses on improving stormwater quality. This might involve converting wetlands, raingardens, tree pits and other natural treatment systems. WSUD can also be used to increase habitat and biodiversity, mitigate the urban heat island effect, and provide treated stormwater for irrigating sports fields and flushing toilets. And advanced treatment (purification) can even transform stormwater into drinking water. All this will prepare our cities for the stressors of drought, climate change and population growth, he adds.

On top of his demanding, but rewarding job, Simon has recently launched Our Future Cities, a movement dedicated to creating sustainable, liveable, equitable and resilient cities. This year’s program also includes a four part seminar series open to industry professionals, students and the general public. The program also includes an interdisciplinary student competition with $7,000 in prize money up for grabs. The competition will engage students in the real-world design challenges of Melbourne’s Arden Urban Renewal Precinct.

And one more thing… Simon is President of the Australian Water Association’s Young Water Professionals (Vic) Committee. This valuable organisation serves to upskill members, as well as motivate others to make positive change in how we manage our precious water.

Had Simon always dreamed of entering the water sector? No! Like most people, I didn’t really see the connection between the water we drink, and flush away, with our quality of life and the environment around us, he shares. While at university, I released the pervasive influence of water. I discovered new technologies and modes of analysis that inspired me to help progress the sustainable urban water management agenda. I was also inspired by the people involved in water studies at Monash who were incredibly dedicated and personable and became important mentors in my journey.

Now well on his way, Simon drops some hints to others seeking such a satisfying career. Act fast, use your networks and follow as many leads as possible. Sounds like a plan.