James Westcott: In my words

As we approach the New Year, we caught up with Immediate Past President, James Westcott to get his take on his time as WA Division President.
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James Westcott: In my words

It has been a pleasure and honour to serve as the WA Division President over the last 2 years.

Firstly, I would like to give a huge thanks to the staff at Engineers Australia, their tireless work and professionalism have helped to make my role that much easier. A special mention goes to the WA General Manager Susan Kreemer Pickford who continues to do a fantastic job; so many of the improvements we have seen over recent years can be attributed to her leadership and energy.

I acknowledge the efforts of the WA Division Committee, and all the volunteers from more than 30 groups, colleges and panels. There is a wonderful commitment from the hundreds of volunteers across WA who willingly give their time and talents to contribute to Engineers Australia.

I think 2018 has been somewhat of a turning point in the WA engineering industry – we are seeing improved outlook in the infrastructure, transport, O&G and mining sectors as we cautiously emerge from several tough years. We have seen the confidence in engineering as a stable career really being tested. There are lower numbers across the country choosing engineering, which will lead to a substantial skills shortage as the need for engineers increases. It is important that we continue to educate society today, particularly school students, who are the workforce of the future, on how important the profession is to our wellbeing as a society.

I would like to share some of the highlights of the past year:

The WA Infrastructure Coalition, of which EA was a founding member, successfully lobbied the government for the establishment of the Infrastructure WA body, which was announced in April and continues to evolve. 

The College of Leadership and Management held the second annual WA Leaders Conference in May which again was a big success and one of our best-attended events of the year.

The regional groups are very important to WA – this year we hosted a public talk on Wave Energy in Albany, a Bunbury site visit to the Port and an EngConnect event in Mandurah with the Peel Group.  We also attended the Kalgoorlie careers expo to discuss engineering with hundreds of high school students from the Goldfields region.

I note the exceptional calibre of the WA projects nominated for the Australian Engineering Excellence Awards this year; there were six winners in WA and two of those went on to receive awards at the national level.

The recognition evening for our newest Fellows, Companion and EngExecs was another highlight. We heard from Dr. Craig Challen OAM, one of the cave divers in the successful Thai cave rescue, who described the amazing events that unfolded there.

We launched our 2019 Digital Events Series with Woodside just last week – this is the culmination of close to a year’s work and has already received a lot of interest. Special thanks to Division Committee member Brian Haggerty for his efforts to get this off the ground.

Finally, congratulations to this year’s WA recipients of the Engineers Australia medal - Stephen Woodhouse for his contribution to the Bunbury community and South West region of WA; Michael Corboy, past WA President (1982), for his leadership over the last 13 years of the Retired Engineers Group; and Allison Selman for her work with EngTalk and WISE (Women in Subsea Engineering).

I wish Paul Young all the very best as WA President in 2019, an exciting year as we celebrate the centenary of Engineers Australia.