02 March 2015

Is ours the invisible profession?

  • Professor James Trevalyan, author of The Making of an Expert Engineer.
  • Peter Cullinane, marketing strategist and entrepreneur.

In contrast to their value to society, engineers are seemingly stuck behind the scenes, downplaying rather than accentuating what they do. But this needn’t be so – it’s up to engineers as to whether they lift their game and capitalise on the challenges of the future.

That’s the contention of expert speakers Professor James Trevelyan and Peter Cullinane, who’ll be addressing this year’s Engineering Professions Forum. 

Professor Trevelyan, an Australian engineer and renowned academic, brings an international perspective to the debate. His recently published book, The Making of an Expert Engineer, draws on the experience of engineering in a number of countries. In the book, he discusses the principles of engineering practice and how engineers can use these to be more productive and influential in society. He’ll address what lessons can be learnt from overseas to assist New Zealand’s engineers in fronting up to future challenges. 

Professor Trevelyan has written widely on the topic. In an article published in The Australian, he argues that commonly held misconceptions abound about the profession. “Thanks to invisibility, the myth of the technical engineer persists: no more than an applied scientist, absorbed in calculations and drawings, inaccessible, a person of few words, somehow a doer,not a talker. “Only by throwing off the cloak of invisibility can we begin to change this. Without this fundamental change, engineering will continue to fail, possibly leading us all to catastrophe.”

Peter Cullinane, a marketing strategist and entrepreneur, will look at how IPENZ can strengthen engineering as a brand. The former Chief Operating Officer of Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide specialises in providing strategic advice to a wide range of local and international companies and has led the development of some of New Zealand’s most iconic brands. He’s the co-founder of Antipodes Water, Director of Lewis Road Creamery Ltd, a board member of SkyCity Entertainment Group and since 2002 has run his own creative strategy company, Assignment Group. He’ll consider society’s perception of engineering, what opportunities the future might hold for the profession and how these can be used to engineers’ advantage.