An update from the Mackay Regional Committee - December 2020

An update from the Mackay Regional Committee.
News Image

I think we can all agree that 2020 has been an unusual year. The scene here in Mackay in November looks much different than I had imagined that it would back in April. I think we can probably agree that things could have turned out far worse.
It is unfortunate that Covid prevented us from having many face to face local technical sessions here in Mackay. They are great ways of sharing technical and local engineering knowledge and also a good opportunity for the local engineering community to meet. We are fortunate that EA Nationally stepped up the number and accessibility of webinars, covering a very good range of topics and this CPD is made accessible to our members via the EA portal.
We hope to resume face to face local technical sessions, in a Covid-safe manner, in 2021. We invite any local members who have a topic to present to contact the local committee.
As the year comes to an end, I thank the local committee members who have served this year. Your efforts are much appreciated. Without a good local committee, we won’t have good local events.
Many of this year’s committee have nominated for the 2021 committee, volunteering to continue to serve the local members:

  • David Verroen has volunteered to Chair the committee
  • Volunteering for the committee: Steve Cutting, Reagan Case, Bruce Wolsey, Neeta Silwal, Mitch Lees, Peter Rosier

We are still looking for a few more committee members, and so if you are keen to be part of it, please contact me. 


Thank you to our 2020 Committee

Deputy Chair









































FIEAust CPEng NER APEC Engineer IntPE(Aus)







MIEAust CPEng NER APEC Engineer IntPE(Aus)







FIEAust CPEng NER APEC Engineer IntPE(Aus)







FIEAust CPEng NER APEC Engineer IntPE(Aus)


Member Spotlight - Interview with Longest Serving Member, Bill McWhinney

Bill McWhinney

We caught up with one of Mackay's longest serving members.
Bill McWhinney, FIEAust CPEng NER APEC Engineer IntPE(Aus),  is a Fellow member who first joined Engineers Australia on the 25 May 1965.   He is 80 years old and retired from practice last year.
How much has the profession changed since becoming a member?
The biggest change is the education.  Kids are offered engineering subjects and can get interested in maths and physics in later years of high school now.  Certification has also ramped up in the last 10 to 15 years.
What is your fondest memory of Engineers Australia?
I did a lot of volunteering with EA in Mackay including being secretary for a few years and chair for a year or so.  I have great memories of site visits including a two to three day trip out to Mt Isa visiting mines.  I ended up spending  a bit of time going out to mines and realise why miners get paid so much!  Going underground is eye-opening.
I enjoyed attended monthly meetings where local members talked about their discipline.  Hearing from Electrical and Civil for example which was different to my Chemical background gave me an appreciation of the breadth of engineering.
Where and what did you study?
I studied at the University of Queensland.  I started with a Bachelor of Applied Science and Industrial Chemistry and then completed Chemical Engineering - 5 years in total.  I then stayed on for 2 years as a tutor and teacher to pay my way through a Master of Engineering Science.  I also gained a PhD in Mechanical Engineering with my thesis being focussed on the analysis and simulations of a sugar mill train.  This led to me being approached by Sugar Research Limited in Mackay - they came down every year to the university to attract new staff and approached me.  I ended up working there for 28 years.  At their peak they had about 70 staff and I was quite involved in sugar transport.
I then started my own practice MEM and Associates and had that for another 28 years.  The Sugar Mills remained a major client and I also did a lot of certification works for fabricators over the years.
It is a brilliant career being an engineer.  I only stopped practicing in November last year after my wife started losing her sight. 
What do you think is the biggest innovation to have come out of Australian engineering?
Computers have changed everything.  I gained a love of them back in my Sugar Mill days.  You have to keep up with the technology. From my point of view the modelling software now available has changed the profession, particularly how this can be used with clients - clients love it!  I started modelling about 20 years ago (at age 60) and it became second nature to me.  I found it gave me a better feeling for the whole job.   I still have 6 computers at home - all networked.
What do you enjoy doing now? 
Unfortunately my wife passed away recently, so I am adjusting to that.  She was my best mate and I miss her dearly. We have been doing renovations and the bathroom will soon be complete.  
I still enjoy learning new things and keeping up to date - I live on the computer.  I have a 2 and half year old Blue Heeler dog called Jess who also brings me joy.


Member Recognition


  • Dean Lowe, MIEAust CPEng NER
  • James Lloyd, MIEAust CPEng NER
  • Abdul Hannah, MIEAust CPEng


  • Matthew Vitale, FIEAust CPEng EngExec APEC Engineer IntPE(Aus)


  • Matthew Vitale, FIEAust CPEng EngExec APEC Engineer IntPE(Aus)
  • Peter Zemek, FIEAust CPEng NER APEC Engineer IntPE(Aus)


Local CPD

We recently held our Annual Dinner on 27 November at Ocean International. Members in our region joined the local committee for an evening of jovial celebration and professional recognition. 
Check our photos of our night here


If you have a topic to present, a potential site tour, or want to get more involved in the local engineering professional community, please get in contact with us. The committee meets regularly and always welcomes new members - please email [email protected] and we will be in contact with you.


Have a Merry Christmas, I hope you have the chance for a break and I wish you a prosperous New Year.


Yours sincerely,

Peter Rosier


Chair, Mackay Regional Group