The engineering sector has taken a number of major hits in recent times. In Australia alone, there is a severe skills shortage when it comes to engineers, with many in the industry worried that the term ‘engineer’ is being bandied about too readily on those who are simply not qualified. In the broader international spectrum, some who do identify themselves as engineers – and have gone through the painstaking process of earning qualifications engineer – have recently found their qualifications unrecognised.
Being an engineer is hard work. It can lack in glamor and professionals often go unrecognised for the importance – and presence – their work has on nearly every industry project.
However, there is a new breed of green engineers making waves around the world and they come from the most unlikely sources – universities. Through government grants and various in-house money raising projects, universities across the US are pushing for – and achieving – on-campus sustainable techological updates. This year’s Earth Day in the US was an important example of the power of students in leading the green engineering cause, with students from both Washington University and Penn State offering their time, skills, expertise and money toward retrofitting facets of their campuses with renewable energy technologies.
This trend is however, not limited to the US. Universities Australia-wide, and their students, are promoting the very best in clever and sustainable engineering. The University of Queensland is a leader in this field with the highly-acclaimed Advanced Engineering Building recently receiving a 5 Star Green Star – Education Design v1 Certified rating as accredited by the Green Building Council of Australia.
Aside from its sustainable technological and design features, the $133 million building has been designed and constructed as a ‘live’ building. This means the way in which the building operates in terms of its environmental performance will become a learning tool for the engineering students who will be able to assess and learn from the building itself.
“The future of engineering requires that engineers develop technologies that are much more sustainable with reduced carbon footprints, so it was a priority that as a training ground for the next generation of engineers, the AEB building exemplified this approach,” says Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology major projects director Professor David St. John.
Recognition and motivation in the engineering arena – especially in areas with a green focus – is a fantastic way to promote this varied and important sector. Engineering has a strong foundation of innovation which, led by a new generation of engineering enthusiasts, promises to breathe new light into the sector.