Josh Kline is a Civil Engineer with around 15 years’ experience in various aspects of dams and water infrastructure. Josh’s engineering career began at Hydro Tasmania, where he developed an interest in dams and associated infrastructure. Josh has spent the last seven years working as a consultant for GHD on a range of dams-related projects in the water, mining, and energy sectors, in a range of contexts locally, nationally, and internationally.
How long have you been a member of Engineers Australia?
I first joined Engineers Australia as a Student Member in 2002, and have maintained my membership since then.
Why did you pursue a career in engineering?
I’ve always been interested in understanding how things work. As kid I would often pull things apart, check out how they worked, and then struggle to put them back together. Entering my first year of an engineering degree, not really understanding what engineering was, I soon found myself seeing how scientific and mathematical principles can be applied in the real world to benefit society. The concept of a career with a combination of office and field work was also appealing.
How can Australian communities/people/society benefit from your work now and in the future?
As dams engineers, we don’t get to build too many new dams these days. However, with many of our current major dams constructed between the 1920s and 1980s, there are plenty of engineering challenges to understand the risks associated with these ageing dams to keep them in a safe condition and preserve the community benefit they provide now and into the future.
What is the most challenging or interesting project you’ve ever worked on?
A couple of Australia’s oldest dams are located in close proximity to Hobart. Investigating the design, construction and operating life of these dams is often challenging but also fascinating and interesting for a born and bred Hobartian like myself.
What do you see as one of the biggest issues facing the engineering profession?
As the world’s population continues to grow at such a rapid pace, the challenge for the engineering profession is to support the development of adequate resources to sustain so many people on this planet.
It’s clear that in order to sustainably support all these people, significant innovation in our profession will be necessary. As engineers we often fall into the trap of doing things how they’ve been done in the past because it’s proven technology and usually easier. One of the biggest issues facing the profession is the incentive to innovate.
What excites you about the future of the profession or what opportunities do you see for the future?
The future of energy supply is exciting and presents enormous opportunities for our profession. Renewable energy is now generally lower cost than traditional non-renewable sources, and the cost of renewables is continuing to reduce. We are now even seeing periods of ‘free energy’ on the national electricity market due to burgeoning wind and solar generation. The presence of this ‘free energy’ is driving innovation in energy storage technology such as batteries, pumped hydroelectricity, and even hydrogen production. Even with an absence of energy policy from government, engineers are getting on and developing a more sustainable energy supply system. Who knows what our energy supply system will look like in 100 years’ time!
Who is your engineering hero?
My collective engineering heroes are the Tasmanian Hydroelectric Commission (HEC) dams engineers of the 1950s to 1980s era. During the peak of Tasmania’s hydropower development, HEC’s dams engineers were on the cutting edge of technology in dams engineering globally. Pick up any textbook on dams engineering and you’ll find plenty of names from the old HEC. To this day Tasmania continues to punch above its weight in the global dams engineering community, which is a reflection of the innovative spirit of our pioneering engineers.
Image: courtesy of Josh Kline