Dr Bronwyn Evans was recently appointed as the new Chief Executive Officer of Engineers Australia. As the peak body for engineering in this country marks the 100th anniversary of its foundation in 1919, she spoke to AMT Magazine about her plans for the organisation.

AMT: Engineers Australia is celebrating its centenary this year. Tell us a bit about the organisation, its history, and its current position.

Bronwyn Evans: Engineers Australia is the peak body and “voice” of the engineering profession. Established in 1919, and constituted by Royal Charter in 1938, our purpose is to advance the science and practice of engineering for the benefit of the community.

Engineering plays a critical role in the lives of all Australians, and Engineers Australia has used the centenary celebrations to highlight the value of engineering to the community and to focus on emerging technologies and the future of the profession.

Our Centenary culminated in November with the World Engineers Convention, which was being held in Australia for the first time. The event, co-hosted by Engineers Australia and the World Federation of Engineering Organizations, was an opportunity for attendees to build networks with leaders in global engineering practice, all while enjoying the natural beauty and quality of life for which Australia is world-renowned. The convention welcomed a diverse array of national and international speakers under the theme Engineering a Sustainable World: The Next 100 Years.


AMT: What sort of activities does Engineers Australia engage in to meet its objectives.

Our organisation has around 4,000 office bearers and 310 staff, who work together to provide a wealth of services. These include:

  • Accrediting Australian engineering programs at universities.
  • Maintaining the largest register for engineering, the National Engineering Register (NER), which currently includes almost 21,400 engineers.
  • Credentialing members as Chartered Engineers, in accordance with international benchmarks. There are now a record 25,000 chartered members.
  • Delivering programs to inspire school students to become the next generation of engineers.
  • Advancing engineering knowledge through our nine discipline-based Colleges and 30 specialist Technical Societies.
  • Delivering professional development to the engineering profession.
  • Serving approximately 100,000 members who live in 120 countries around the world.
  • Representing Australia in the International Engineering Alliance and developing agreements for global professional mobility.
  • Speaking as the number-one voice of the engineering profession in Australia.
  • Assessing around 16,000 migrant skills applications on behalf of the Australian government.


AMT: What is the make-up of your current membership? And in what ways might your members be engaging in the manufacturing sector?

BE: Our membership covers everyone from undergraduate engineering students and newly graduated engineers, through to mid-career engineers and senior leaders of the engineering profession, as well as people allied to the profession. The composition of our membership is split across these broad areas as follows: 40,000 students and graduates; 48,500 members; 7,500 Fellows; and 300 Affiliates and Companions.

Our members are active in the manufacturing sector, including in areas such as medical devices and supply chains of all types.


AMT: What do you see as the biggest issues facing engineering in this country?

BE: Some of the challenges for the profession include creating the engineers of the future, with the right skills and competency profiles for industries and needs that currently don’t exist; retaining engineers in the profession; and creating a diverse and inclusive industry.

Some of the opportunities that we have as engineers is to be part of delivering products and services in niche areas of manufacturing, such as CEA Technologies, which not only makes radar systems for our Navy but sells them to the US.

As the Australian population ages, technology provided by engineers will become more and more important in advancing health delivery and containing costs of the overall healthcare system, as well as offering automation of many services that will support active assisted living for the ageing population.


AMT: What can government be doing to support it?

BE: There are multiple policy areas that will support engineering to continue to contribute positively to the Australian community. These include:

  • Education policy.
  • Tax policy such as through the R&D Tax Incentive.
  • Migration policy, such as skilled migration.
  • Transport and health policies.
  • Innovation policy.


AMT: With a particular focus on the manufacturing industry, how do you see engineering’s role evolving over the next 10 to 20 years?

BE: In all areas of technology, the introduction of wireless sensor networks, Internet of Things, Artificial intelligence and machine learning will play a part. Engineering will be an important contributor to implementing these innovations and helping manufacturing to capitalise on them. That means the role and skills of engineers will evolve and grow as the demands of the industry evolve and change.


AMT: Tell us about your professional background prior to this role.

BE: I am electrical engineer with more than 35 years of experience in sectors as diverse as power generation and distribution, to medical device design and manufacturing. Specifically, I have had roles in transmission line construction and substation maintenance, steel production and mill maintenance, engineering education and research in my PhD years, medical device design, manufacture and quality management systems (QMS) at Cochlear, and leading a major business unit in Asia for GE. And most recently I was the CEO of Standards Australia.


AMT: You’ve recently come into the job? What are your ambitions for Engineers Australia?

BE: At Engineers Australia our purpose is to “advance the science and practice of engineering for the benefit of the community”. And we will do that by delivering on our critical strategic goals. These are to:

  • Create tomorrow’s engineers.
  • Uphold professional standards.
  • Provide a professional home for life.
  • Be the trusted voice of the profession.

My ambition is that we are best-in-class in the interactions that we have with members, with potential members and with the broader community. My ambition is that we inspire young people to understand how fantastic it is to be an engineer. My ambition is that we support engineers who have both traditional and non-traditional career paths. And when we can do this, we will be true to our purpose and contribute to all sectors, and especially the manufacturing sector.