Engineering shapes our world

23 FEBRUARY 2021

Engineering shapes our world

On the Global Day of the Engineer on Wednesday 24 February, take a moment to consider that nearly everything we use, touch, wear, travel in or on, and eat, has had an engineer take some natural material and manipulate it to make it useful.

  • ‘Thank an engineer’ on Global Day of the Engineer on Wednesday 24 February
  • Engineers convert science to work so it can serve a useful purpose
  • Charles Sturt Engineering student engineers work on real problems for real clients

On the Global Day of the Engineer on Wednesday 24 February, take a moment to consider that nearly everything we use, touch, wear, travel in or on, and eat, has had an engineer take some natural material and manipulate it in some way to make it useful.

Senior Engineer-in-Residence in the Charles Sturt University Engineering program Mr Peter Thew (pictured inset) said that while scientists explore the theories of everything, it is up to engineers to take the science and put it to work so it can serve a useful purpose.

“Scientists developed lasers, it was engineers who figured out how to use them for measuring, listening to music, brain surgery, and making phone calls, to name a few examples,” Mr Thew said.

He explained in 2016 CSU Engineering started with a clean sheet of paper and a question: ‘If you were going to design a whole new way of teaching engineering – unhampered by the traditions, buildings or constraints of the past – how would you do it?’

“The answer is the degree program we established, which is now recognised by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston and others as an emerging world leader,” Mr Thew said.

“We noticed that in the real world people rarely put you in a room without any books or resources and ask you to solve a contrived problem in under three hours, so we don’t have any exams either.

“Our student engineers do what engineers do; they solve real world problems in innovative ways.”

Mr Thew said by their second year Charles Sturt student engineers work on real problems for real clients.

Ms Miranda Swift from Lithgow is one such student, and this semester she and her team will be working with the Wattle Flat Progress Association to design their new local hall.

“Along the way Miranda will figure out what she needs to learn and the resources she needs to do the design, and through this process she will be mentored and guided by our Engineers-in-Residence,” Mr Thew said.

“For four years of the five-and-a-half-year master’s degree, engineers learn on the job the important skills they need, and access the curriculum on-demand so they can apply what they learn as they go.”

Ms Swift, who is in her second year of study and is a recipient of a Charles Sturt Women in Engineering Scholarship, started working at Calare Civil when she was 16, and later enrolled in CSU Engineering.

“My work at Calare Civil is very varied, and my main role is inspecting properties across the Central West to design wastewater systems,” Ms Swift said.

“I also do structural inspections and drafting, and I am currently working with Engineers Australia to increase female enrolment in engineering regionally, as this is something I am very passionate about - encouraging females to enter the engineering profession.”

Ms Swift said that in the future she wants to inspire young girls to do what she is doing. She also intends to specialise in the civil side of engineering, such as road design, and stormwater and wastewater management.

“My long-term career goal is to fill a senior position as a civil engineer while working with girls and young women as I do now,” she said.

“I also want to further develop my love for building design and architecture.”

Mr Thew said, “We think it is important to keep our staff grounded, so we run a real business, CSU Engineering Consulting, where the staff must make sure they keep their engineering skills up-to-date and in-touch with the real world,” he said.

“Our business vision statement is ‘Grow engineering expertise in our region, Apply and share our knowledge, and Make the world a better place’.”

Learn more about studying with the Charles Sturt University Engineering program.

Media Note:

To arrange interviews with Mr Peter Thew and Ms Miranda Swift contact Bruce Andrews at Charles Sturt Media on mobile 0418 669 362 or via 

Mr Peter Thew joined the staff of Charles Sturt University in 2018 after 20 years in industry, managing design and construction projects in the UK, USA, Pakistan, and Australia. Since finishing his degree with specialisation in hydraulics and water flow, Mr Thew moved into structural engineering, designing multiple buildings and structures in steel and concrete. He also developed forensic engineering expertise, investigating numerous failures and problems in buildings and structures around the world, and managing maintenance and upgrades to several historic dams in NSW. He brings hard won experience and practicality to supplement the theory of design and structures. In addition to the academic work, Mr Thew manages the CSU Consulting Engineers firm, providing specialist civil engineering services to the NSW Central West and beyond.

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