Take time to reflect and celebrate with Steve Chapman
About Steve Chapman
Steve is a Civil Engineer. He graduated in 1978 from UNSW and as of 2018 is retired. Steve is married with three grown children, and (nearly!) two grandchildren.
Steve was inspired to get into engineering through a really good grounding in maths from a great maths teacher in high school.
Initially he was planning to do surveying, but after talking to a mechanical engineer was recommended to consider civil engineering…. and he hasn’t looked back.
When Steve left uni, he found getting a job during the recession in 1978 was very difficult. He applied to over 60 jobs!
He started his ‘real’ engineering work at a small hydraulic consultant company. A standout and one of his first projects while there was for the Sydney Entertainment Centre (demolished in 2016). It was a great role, working with high profile architects and getting involved into many detailed investigations.
After leaving that role, Steve worked at Bankstown Council and then moved to his local council – Sutherland Shire council (southern outskirts of Sydney). His final position with the council was as the Manager of Design Services. His role was to manage a group of engineers, landscape architects, building architect and surveyors undertaking design work within Council for roads, drainage, public open space, community buildings, waterway facilities etc.
Working with council allowed Steve to experience a large range of varied projects.
Steve was most rewarded by being involved in a diverse range of projects that benefited the community. Every day he could see how the Shire revolved, changed and grew.
“I’m playing a small part in the evolution of the shire…. and it was fun”
Steve is one of those rare engineers who doesn’t point out ever project he has worked on… mainly because there are just too many in the local area for him to point to a single item!
A standout project for Steve has been the Ridge Sporting Complex. 120 Hectares of a repurposed waste facility which is now a golf course, driving range, playing fields, athletic tracks, netball fields….
Hot Topic discussion
“We don’t celebrate some of the great things we do”
When it came time for Steve to retire, his colleagues made him realise that he shouldn’t just “disappear” from the role. He needed to reflect upon and share all his achievements during his career and all that he had accomplished.
Engineers need to “communicate to people what we do and how we can do it and what are the great things an engineer can do”
Steve took time before he retired to speak to people and tell them about the projects he had worked on. A lot of the conversations included educating people on the actual roles and processes that were involved in delivering the projects. “They don’t understand the processes involved in getting to that final product”
People don’t understand, or have lost, the understanding of what value engineers can bring to a project “I think if we can communicate that out there, I think it would add value to projects, but add value to us as a profession”
During this podcast, you will also reflect on:
Be optimistic about the future of engineering “There’s a lot of exciting things for engineering in the future”
Steve is impressed by the calibre and standard of engineers that are coming through the industry now. “I think future of engineering is in good hands with the young people coming through”
Some advice to people just starting out in engineering. Steve thinks “it’s important that you don’t lock yourself too early into one area, give yourself exposure to a few different areas” it would help you get an understanding of where your interests might lie and help you make better career decisions in the future.
An engineering item for discussion. Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric scheme “It’s the biggest engineering project undertaken in Australia”. The scale is immense and the duration of the project was 1949 – 1974, with over 100,000 people working on it. “A fantastic piece of engineering that we as a country should be proud of”. Read more about the scheme at the National Archives of Australia
An engineer to admire. Sir William Hudson was the Chief engineer for the Snowy Mountains scheme from 1949 – 1971.