Steven O’Keefe, deputy head of Griffith University’s school of engineering, recently spoke to sustainability website thefifthestate.com.au about the future generation of sustainability engineers in Australia.
“Some people see engineers with the hard hat and roll of blueprints, some can’t see past civil engineering, “ he told The Fifth Estate.
“Australia is a little bit behind in implementation of a lot of projects – Germany is leading us by miles when it comes to solar energy – ridiculous in such as sunny country.
“I am disappointed that Australia is behind the eight ball, a lot of technology is sent overseas. We don’t have the people interested in these sort of projects. Australia doesn’t have old money, companies are reluctant to risk their capital. If we had more of that going on there would be a much more obvious career path.
“Everyone knows about climate change, but people are not so familiar with what sustainable solutions are. They entail significant amounts of engineering.”
To broaden the students perspective on energy efficiency engineering and the potential savings, student’s at O’Keefe’s Griffith University where recently asked to perform an energy audit on their home.
“I see pennies dropping in classes when students discover just how broad the opportunities are. They become passionate about areas they really care about: making diesel engines run more efficiently, minimising fossil fuel usage, working on buildings, making better solar panels and better turbine technology, solid state lighting and energy auditing”.
Whilst this reaction is positive, their are still many barriers stopping Australian students from taking the lead in sustainability engineering.
“Maybe the sustainability side is not promoted enough,” says O’Keefe. “We need lateral solutions of getting the message across. Educating in and out of school, more presence on the internet.”
“When we do talk about sustainable energy most students said they wanted to make a difference. It also needs to be part of the national school curricula.”