Marianne was in the UK and started her study at the University of Leeds. Then she received her PhD from University of Edinburgh. After moving to Australia in 1997 for Holmes Fire, Marianne joined Arup in 2003 where she is now an Arup Fellow.
Was good across the board at school. Being a slightly obstreperous person, she chose a career in engineering.
Marianne’s partner is Scottish and also an engineer. She lives in Sydney with 2 rescue dogs, but has to do a lot of travel due to her job.
Marianne leads the Consulting Sector of Arup in Australasia, which comprises the technical specialists, advisory services, digital services and all the planning disciplines.
Marianne is a Fire Engineer. Her first project – a car park was a lovely car park but not very interesting. Her second project was much more interesting – it was the 20,000 seat indoor arena at Homebush for the Sydney Olympics in 1997.
Australia had just shifted to a performance-based code for design, which meant the demand for Fire Engineers was very high.
The most interesting project she has working on is the Beijing Watercube, the swimming centre for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Probably the only project from her career that she can buy a bikini of!
Hot Topic discussion
Diversity is a huge challenge and being a woman in a mostly male world has it’s downsides, but women engineers are also in demand so it’s a great career choice.
Threats and opportunities of automation and digital engineering is also a concern, but this has previously been discussed.
Marianne chose to talk about social usefulness…. How engineers as a profession can step up and steer the world towards our obligations to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Companies increasingly need a social licence to operate.
Historically engineers have been silent, or at least quiet, on social issues. The world is facing some significant challenges and we need to have a more positive impact.
“Engineering has got an image problem, in terms of attracting in people who want to change the world, we’re not doing it.” We need to work harder to change that. And then we need more engineers to speak up, to engage with or in politics to lead the charge to sensible solutions in this post fact era.
Water shortage, energy shortage, access to food, increase of extreme weather events… all of these are going to need scientists and engineers to find answers. And the scary part for Marianne is fewer people choosing STEM subjects at school.
“The fact that the public thinks engineers aren’t the ones that are going to save the world is an image problem”
Get in front of teachers. Get people to choose the STEM subjects. “We need organisations like Consult Australia & Engineers Australia to be a bit braver in talking about solutions. So try to lead discussions”
Calling out to all the engineers listening – go out into politics. Society needs those future leaders.
During this podcast, you will also reflect on:
…It’s really interesting to be an engineer right now.
Continues to find the creation of tangible things the most satisfying part of the job “I helped make that”
Currently leading the fire engineer team on one of Sydney metro projects, creating a new underground transport interchange, interconnected retail, connected into two new office towers and below a heritage listed building. It’s technically really interesting, but more than that; a project like this creates a positive legacy for our city. Public transport creates greater access to jobs and hence economic success for people, it reduces carbon emissions hence has a positive impact on climate change, and it saves people travel time, which means they have more time for their family and friends, and are more productive. Projects like these make her very proud to be an engineer.
I think engineers have a great future; it’s engineers that can save the world.
Advice for people just starting out: Work hard, develop your technical skills and don’t be in too much of a rush to get into management roles. A master craftsman takes a good decade or more to be truly brilliant, and professions are no different. There is no substitute to know what you are talking about and using that to bring value.
Being an Arup Fellow. Arup has 12,000 engineers globally with only 41 Fellows. It was a huge honour for Marianne. Arup’s has been an incredibly influential company globally.
An engineering item for discussion.The most interesting is the Beijing Watercube, the swimming centre for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. It resulted from the judges and the popular vote in China. There was a global team working on it with so many amazing opportunities. Marianne worked on the Fire Engineering for the building. The Arup Design team won the MacRobert Award – an award for innovation in engineering in the UK. They used the prize money to bring everyone who had worked on the project for over 1 week to come together in Beijing to visit the Watercube. A busload of engineers “bouncing off the walls”. So excited to be able to lay their hands on the wonderful building they created, “It was a pretty good day in the life of an engineer” … “to me, makes our profession so good”.
An engineer to admire. There are 2 living engineers Marianne finds inspirational, both are with Arup.
Peter Johnson, Godfather of Fire Engineering. Marianne joined Arup specifically to work with him. He’s technically excellent, incredibly passionate, generous, fun, one of the warmest and nicest human beings she knows.
Tristram Carfrae, a structural engineer for the Watercube.