• Lyn Hart, Veena Sahajwalla and Rachel Smith

    Lyn Hart, Veena Sahajwalla and Rachel Smith

  • Robyn Campbell and Damien Stewart

    Robyn Campbell and Damien Stewart

  • Brian and Pat Watson with Jock McClean

    Brian and Pat Watson with Jock McClean

  • Helen Leayr, Vesm=na Strika and Toa Mafi

    Helen Leayr, Vesm=na Strika and Toa Mafi

  • Alan Thompson and Annabelle Pegrum

    Alan Thompson and Annabelle Pegrum

  • Paul Barker and Ted Whitehead

    Paul Barker and Ted Whitehead

  • Veena Sahajwalla and Michael Bryce

    Veena Sahajwalla and Michael Bryce

Engineers Australia: Michael Bryce Lunch

1 May 2014

We couldn’t have built this city without engineers and now on those serried hills where a patchwork of plantings are growing into an arboretum, which will for our grandchildren reveal a forward thinking bunch of Canberrans, Engineers Australia are into the final stretch of a competitive creative process to give their pin oak plot something splendid, to be, we hope, decorative and functional.

So will it be a bungy jump of extraordinary beauty, a slippery slide to swoosh us to the bottom of the hill or a place of comfort and tranquility in this special grove. We know it is Engineers Australia Freefall Experience Design Competition, and they want this design and subsequent creation to be a futuristic experience, but the freefall is a reference to the pin oaks that never seem to want to let anything fall from their boughs as the leaves hang on almost until they’re shoved off with new growth. So what futuristic creation will the entrants design.

To add to the speculation and interest Dr. Michael Bryce, a member of the competition jury, spoke at a lunch organized by Engineers Australia and revealed insider information into the difference between an architect and an engineer, to get the forum underway. One is stoic, reliable and practical the other a dreamer, eccentric and unreliable. You guess which is which but to help, imagine one wearing corduroy and suede brothel creepers smoking a cheroot the other long sox, shorts and smoking a pipe. Does that make it any easier.

With the subject “What, if anything, is an engineer” had Bryce asking the gathered what if anything did Alfred Hichcock, Yasser Arafat, Rowan Atkinson, Leonid Brezhnev and Jimmy Carter have in common. The answer may surprise you but before that it was Veena Sahajwalla, of course you remember her from the New Inventors, who took us on the kind of visual experience of extraordinary new products, better materials and innovation in recycling her SMaRT@UNSW centre where she is the director is developing. She definitely had some futuristic ideas in her grab bag of innovations.

And that famous five were all engineers.