Dr Jessica Walker is a Chartered Professional Engineer in the Civil and Mechanical Colleges. She is passionate about renewable energy and has spent her career conducting research in renewable energy and energy efficiency in Australia and the USA. She joined Hydro Tasmania as a Civil Engineer in December 2019, after a 14 year academic career at the Australian Maritime College at the University of Tasmania and as a Fulbright Scholar at the United States Naval Academy.
Her experience includes hydropower, tidal power and the frictional resistance caused by biofouling (hydropower conduits and shipping); primarily from a fluid mechanics perspective. She was the 2011 National Chair of Young Engineers Australia, a 2012 Fulbright Scholar and a 2014 Tall Poppy.
How long have you been volunteering with Engineers Australia?
I have been involved with Engineers Australia since 2006. I started in my local young engineers group, and went on to lead Young Engineers Australia as the National Chair in 2011. I have also been on the Tasmania Division Committee.
Why did you become a volunteer?
To connect with other like-minded individuals across Australia, build my professional networks, and to help inspire the next generation of engineers through volunteering at events such as the Science and Engineering Challenge and visiting schools.
What do you enjoy most about being a volunteer?
Through my time volunteering with EA I have had the privilege to work with an incredibly diverse group of professionals across Australia and have been able to develop my skills in a range of areas. I have also really enjoyed opportunities to speak with school students, particularly young women, about potential careers in STEM.
What has been your greatest achievement in your time volunteering with Engineers Australia?
I have held some substantial leadership positions as a volunteer with EA, but I would have to say that the aspect that I am most proud of is being able to be a role model and mentor for young people considering careers in engineering and being able to break down some of the perceived barriers to women joining the profession.
How has your career informed your work as a volunteer?
In my academic career, I have contributed regularly to STEM days, school visits, tour groups etc and helped to broaden the horizons of young people considering their future careers. On the flip side, the leadership experience that I have gained through volunteering with EA has led to some fairly amazing career opportunities, including spending 12 months researching tidal power in the United States as a Fulbright Scholar.
How do you balance work and volunteering?
In the early years of my career I was able to volunteer on a regular basis through serving on various committees with the support of my employer. Since I have had a family, finding the time for regular volunteering has become more of a challenge, but I still try and contribute when I can.
What would you tell other members who are considering becoming a volunteer?
Volunteering with Engineers Australia is a fantastic way to give back to the profession at the same time as building your professional networks and gaining a myriad of new skills that you can apply in your professional and personal life. I highly recommend it!
Image: courtesy of Dr Jessica Walker