Change what it means to be an engineer with Susan Kreemer Pickford
About Susan Kreemer Pickford
Born and raised in Scotland, Susan decided when she was young that she wanted to live somewhere the sun shone all the time. She was considered rather bright and after being selected to participate in a week-long immersive engineering program at 15, Susan discovered that engineering “was project based and that you had to sit at the beginning and worked out what the problem was and how best to solve it“
Susan holds a Bachelor of Civil Engineering with Honours from the University of Paisley in Scotland. She is a Chartered Engineer, EngExec and also a Fellow of Engineers Australia.
Susan is really pleased with the decision she made to get into engineering “I love it. It’s got everything I want”
She is currently the General Manager of Engineers Australia looking after the WA membership, and in February 2019 she took on a mentor role with Australia Awards – Women’s Leadership Initiative
Her first real project was working on the Sky Bridge for the Scotland Government. It involved catching the ferry across to Skye“… at least 40 times, in the snow!” She interviewed people to understand the demand for the bridge and to evaluate the need for the bridge. “engineering is not the design of the bridge, it’s the economic justification for the bridge. So that was a really cool first job, proper job.”
Hot Topic discussion
“change the narrative of what engineering actually is and who are engineers”
Susan believes it is time to change societies idea of who can be an engineer. This ranges from diversity concerns, to understanding what an engineer can provide society, to what foundational strengths an engineer could have.
“I quite often joke, I didn’t set out to become a female engineer.”
Susan mentions the Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Decadal Planwhichis a vision and guide to build a strong STEM workforce.
“I’d rather that we just took a more holistic approach and just treated people like people and came to it from the angle of all the diversity of thinking that we have across the genders and all the different types of cultural diversity and people of different abilities”
Susan discusses the great work that is taking place within Curtin University’s Autism Academy
“…want to be an engineer?Be an engineer, and be the best engineer you can be.”
Some solutions discussed include:
EngTalk – EA goes out to school and shares their ideas of what an engineer does.
Immersive programs such as the one Susan participated in when she was young.
Have ongoing engineering in the classroom and curriculum.
During this podcast, you will also reflect on:
The role of Engineers Australia and how it is made up. “there’s been a concerted effort that we need to be the voice of the profession and represent our engineer”
Engineers Australia is “raising the profile of engineers”
Susan has lived through the experience of spending many months looking for a job. She knows how difficult it can be. It’s so important to keep persevering, and hope for a little bit of luck.
The importance of starting networking as early into your career as possible. “Your network starts right at the beginning where you build it for that day when you might need it”. Listen to more about networking for engineers in #Ep22 with Julia Palmer
An engineering item for discussion…Optus Stadium in Perth “because it’s so well placed for people to be able to see it from the city”… “a real connection to country”
An engineer to admire… Sue Murphy “her leadership in the water corporation a really challenging time in the face of dry it. And what she did was led the community to really work closely with her team on the outcome they wanted for Western Australia”. “…she worked very hard on a community engagement strategy”
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