Hayley Rohrlach

MIEAust

Senior Civil Engineer

AECOM

Hayley studied Civil and Structural Engineering with a double degree in Finance at the University of Adelaide and graduated with honours in 2009. Since graduating, Hayley has worked on a wide range of civil infrastructure projects including traffic and transport, drainage, pipeline design and land developments. Her current role is the Civil Lead on significant capability building Defence project where she is responsible to ensure a coordinated design with building and external services, drainage and pavements, as well as other adjacent concurrent projects on the site.

Hayley is also the Chair of the National Committee, Women in Engineering for Engineers Australia.

How long have you been a member of Engineers Australia?
I joined Engineers Australia as a student member while at University and have been a member since.

Why did you pursue a career in engineering?
My grandpa started a civil construction company, which my father was involved in and eventually took over. While I was a child they were involved in building large bridges for major highways in South Australia, and in more recent years, the construction of land developments.

I touched my first bridge beam at six months old and was enlisted to lay water main during university holidays. You could say civil engineering is in my blood.

How can Australian communities/people/society benefit from your work now and in the future?
While not seen by most of the community, the work I am part of with Defence has direct benefit to our Defence force. I have been involved in the civil design for facilities within Defence Bases and Training Facilities to support Defence personnel in training or working or living facilities.

What is the most challenging or interesting project you’ve ever worked on?
My most challenging and interesting project are the same one. We were involved in the design of a large Defence training facility. The engineering challenges involved providing large trunk infrastructure to a greenfield site; designing hardstands and washing facilities for large Defence vehicles; and how we could design the infrastructure throughout the site to ensure the project could be staged in a cost-effective manner.

The interest in the project came from understanding how the Defence Force train and operate; and how we can design facilities to assist them in developing their skills.

What do you see as one of the biggest issues facing the engineering profession?
In my role as the Chair of the Women in Engineering National Committee, I consider the ongoing challenges in pushing for a diverse and inclusive workplace as a significant issue. My ultimate aim for the Women in Engineering committee is to no longer exist. Unfortunately, we have a while to go on that. The Committee are engaged with Engineers Australia to continue to push and develop strategies and targets to make this happen.

In my day-to-day work, I believe that addressing and decreasing/eliminating the impacts of climate change should be our ultimate aim. We should ask ourselves every day how we can engineer a future-proof world.

What excites you about the future of the profession or what opportunities do you see for the future?
I am excited about the development of new renewable technologies and how we can engrain them into our day to day lives to reduce our reliance on old energy sources.

Locally, the development of the Space Agency in South Australia is an exciting future industry for the younger generations. I hope that this is an industry that encourages and increases STEM involvement throughout high school and into university study. I am jealous it wasn’t a thing while I was growing up!

Who is your engineering hero?
Growing up, there unfortunately weren’t many prominent female engineers to aspire or look up to. Hopefully the younger generations will be spoilt for choice as females become more prominent in the engineering work force.

Image: courtesy of Hayley Rohrlach