Senior Process Engineer
Kate Lewis is a Chemical Engineer, working as a Senior Process Engineer with Aurecon. She works in the water industry, with her main technical passion being water treatment.
Kate is quite active in the Engineers Australia community; she is the past Chair of the South Australian branch of Women in Engineering, Chair of the South Australian Branch of the Chemical College, and is the Chair of the Chemical College Board.
Kate is also a Chartered Engineer and Fellow of Engineers Australia.
How long have you been a member of Engineers Australia?
I joined while I was studying at Adelaide University and have been a member since.
Why did you pursue a career in engineering?
At school I really enjoyed problem solving and was drawn to science and maths subjects as the most interesting to solve. When I grew older and started looking at possible careers, chemical engineering was the obvious choice to use problem solving to make the world a better place.
How can Australian communities/people/society benefit from your work now and in the future?
The water industry is an integral part of all our lives; water is a requirement for life that in Australia we often take for granted… until something goes wrong. As the impacts of climate change become more apparent and populations increase, the efficient delivery of safe drinking water and wastewater services will become ever more important and more reliant on effective technical solutions.
What is the most challenging or interesting project you’ve ever worked on?
I would argue that every project I’ve worked on had its own unique challenges and interesting points!
The most rewarding project I have worked on involved a complicated series of minor upgrades to water treatment processes to reduce the risk of pathogen breakthrough to public health.
It was a stimulating mix of a technical challenge with no straight-forward solution or recognised Australian Standard, a large number of interested stakeholders, a delivery period spread over multiple years and several contractors, with a lot of site-based work. This project, which was ultimately successful, set the benchmark for several subsequent projects.
What do you see as one of the biggest issues facing the engineering profession?
Climate change. Developing sustainable technical solutions to address the impacts of climate change should be a part of our everyday work.
What excites you about the future of the profession or what opportunities do you see for the future?
I think one of the most exciting opportunities will also bring a lot of challenges: the continued rapid development and application of digital technologies. Engineers are the logical choice to continue to implement these solutions, which will require staying educated and involved.
Who is your engineering hero?
Honestly, I couldn’t name one person as a ‘hero’ of mine. I’ve had good fortune in my career to date, working with dedicated and engaged engineers from all levels. I have enjoyed learning different things from all of them.