Applications are now open for Australia’s Most Innovative Engineers 2019. If you’re an engineer working on something truly innovative, now’s the time to take the chance and apply, writes past winner Thomas Miller, Associate Engineer – Geotechnics, SMEC.
Applications are now open for Australia’s Most Innovative Engineers 2019. If you’re an engineer working on something truly innovative, now’s the time to take the chance and apply.
When I entered the awards in 2017, I wasn’t sure whether I was in with a chance. But I ended up making the list, which was a great experience. I want to encourage other engineers across the country to enter and offer some insights and tips into the application process.
The process of entering was itself rewarding, as it allowed me to reflect on the work I had done. I gained clarity on how I could increase my focus on innovation and provide broader community and environmental benefits in my work going forward.
I was put forward for the award by a colleague who was our ‘Innovation Champion’ at the time as part of an organisation-wide focus on technical excellence and innovation.
My application highlighted the innovative work SMEC had been doing as the lead design firm on the multi-award winning Sydney Metro Northwest project.
SMEC has a strong focus on innovation, and to have my contribution to the project recognised by the broader engineering community was an opportunity not to be missed.
From tiny detail to big picture
The process was relatively straightforward. It involved providing a brief 150-word description and a more detailed 600-word description of my work and the innovation involved. Criteria focussed on why the work was innovative and the benefits to the environment, project, organisation and community.
Although it was a challenge to distil the complexity of our work into these short descriptions and to frame it within the context of innovation and community benefit, I also found it very rewarding.
As engineers who are immersed in the day-to-day minutia of a project, we do not realise the broader positive impacts our work is having until we take the time to look back and reflect. Applying for the Most Innovative Engineers award is a perfect opportunity to do just that.
I received some help and guidance from our Innovation Champion in preparing and submitting the nomination. I also found it useful to explain the work to friends and family outside the profession and to get feedback from them on how I could more clearly communicate the key points.
Like many engineers, I tend to get caught up in the technical detail of my work, so having people help me describe it at a higher level was important.
Winning the award has had a positive affect on my career. I received recognition internally at SMEC and within the broader engineering community. I was subsequently nominated for the Bradfield Award given by Engineers Australia, which I believe was a direct result of being named on the Most Innovative Engineers list.
I also had the opportunity to present my work at an industry symposium and to write a technical paper on it.
I’m looking forward to seeing this year’s entrants and winners. Understanding the innovative work being done by others is inspiring and it showcases the myriad talented engineers around the country doing great things daily.
The deadline for Most Innovative Engineers submissions has been extended to 14 March. If you or someone you know should be on this year’s list, apply here.