Acting Director, Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS)
Roads and Maritime Services
Jason Gordon is a proud Barkindji man from Bourke in NSW. Jason is currently Acting Director Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) at Roads and Maritime Services. Though his substantive position is Director Technical Operations and Support, in the almost four years he has been within the Transport Cluster Jason has acted as Chief Engineer, and Director of Engineering at RMS and Chief Engineer, and Executive Director of the Assets Standards Authority at TfNSW.
Prior to RMS, Jason ran his own business for a couple of years and also spent 20+ years in local government with various Councils around the state, his last role being General Manager of a regional council. Jason has qualifications in Engineering, Business Administration, Commercial Law, Urban Planning and Real Estate. He is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, a Fellow of Engineers Australia, and a member of both IPWEA and APESMA.
How long have you been a member of Engineers Australia?
Except for a small break in membership when I was a General Manager, probably close to 25 years. As a General Manager in local government I didn’t see a need for being part of Engineers Australia; I eventually came to my senses and re-joined.
Why did you pursue a career in engineering?
As a young child both my grandfathers worked for the then Department of Main Roads NSW. For as long as I can remember all I have wanted to do was build roads and be the boss, and now I do both!
I’m slightly more refined today, and want to continue to work in the Public Sector at Senior Management level with an innovative employer that values delivery of quality services to an engaged community. To live with my family in the community where I work and strive to be able to make a difference to that community, both through my work and personal contributions.
How can Australian communities/people/society benefit from your work now and in the future?
From the time a person gets out of bed to the time they go back they are touched by what we do: water, sewerage, electricity, roads, bridges, trains, busses, buildings, phones, etc. I cannot think of another profession that has such a reach and impact on the lives of people.
As a profession we need to continue to evolve to meet the challenges of society, adapt to remain relevant, and more importantly promote what we do so that society values and knows how they benefit from Engineers of all disciplines and recognises us as such.
What is the most challenging or interesting project you’ve ever worked on?
That would be my current project. I am responsible for the SCATS (Sydney Coordinated Adaptive Traffic System) within RMS in the NSW Government. This system was developed in the 1970’s and is the ‘traffic light system’ for around 5,000 sites in NSW, 6,000 sites in the rest of Australia, and around 40,000 in other parts of the world. We are embarking on a technology road map to bring the system into the 21st century and to remain arguably the world’s best traffic control system. It was developed and is owned by the NSW Government. As part of the program we are also upgrading 500 intersections in NSW to improve efficiencies. I’m the chief stop and go person, as my kids say!
What do you see as one of the biggest issues facing the engineering profession?
The biggest issue is that we have allowed the name ‘engineer’ to be compromised and hence the value watered down – unless you have a PhD or are a medical Doctor no one uses the title ‘Doctor’, and Engineering should be no different. We are starting to claw back the value of Engineering, but significantly more work is required for us to demonstrate the value our profession provides, our relevance. Accompanied with this is continuing to complement our technical skills with softer sided skills around communication, etc.
What excites you about the future of the profession or what opportunities do you see for the future?
Everything to do with Engineering excites me; what other profession allows you to decide how you can assist your community, design that, build it, see the effects of what you do and then show your kids in 20+ years what you did? It has to be the most rewarding career around.
The best opportunity I see for the future is that, as a father of three daughters, they now have an opportunity to do the same as me if they want to – it is no longer a male dominated field and old boys club.
Who is your engineering hero?
I grew up in a remote town called Bourke in far west NSW, and by sheer luck was able to get into Engineering. The local council, Bourke Shire Council, provided me a scholarship and without that I would never had the opportunity to pursue my dream, so my heroes are my mum and dad for supporting me and Bourke Shire Council for giving me the means to be an Engineer.
Image: courtesy of Jason Gordon