Louise Muneretto

MIEAust

Civil Engineer, Water

WSP Australia Pty Ltd

Louise is a civil engineer with seven years of experience, currently working in Brisbane. She has spent most of her career working in the field across a variety of civil projects in rural and urban Australia (QLD, SA and NSW). Her current work involves the design, installation and commissioning of various infrastructure such as: water mains, sewer rising mains, gravity sewer mains, and sewer pump stations.

How long have you been a member of Engineers Australia?
11 years.

Why did you pursue a career in engineering?
Perhaps the real question is why did engineering pursue me? My dad fondly recalls the moment he knew I was going to be an engineer. I was around four or five years old, building sandcastles on the beach. The tide was coming in and I wanted to build a wall of sand to withstand the tide. However, each time I tried I was unsuccessful. I noticed on the beach there were piles of seaweed which remained unmoved by the tide. With gusto, I set to work collecting seaweed. Dad watched as I meticulously applied the seaweed into the sand wall construction. It was a beautiful moment when the tide came in and the wall remained.

How can Australian communities/people/society benefit from your work now and in the future?
Quite simply my purpose is to provide the Queensland community with access to clean water and a functioning sewer system, meeting the needs of now and not compromising the needs of future generations to come.

What is the most challenging or interesting project you’ve ever worked on?
You will never forget the challenges of your first sewer pump station refurbishment. For those of you not familiar, the most exciting part of a sewer pump station is the wet well (a chamber full of sewage). In this case the wet well was 6m in diameter and 10 meters deep, containing 3 pumps submerged in sewage. The internal contents of the wet well required removal. In completing this task, I became well acquainted with confined space, working at heights, suspended loads, network interventions and the fragrance of H2S (rotten egg smell).

What do you see as one of the biggest issues facing the engineering profession?

Being an engineer is not a job, it is a way of life – it’s important to have the right attitude. Being an engineer is about engaging communities, fostering collaboration and harnessing diversity of thought. Without the buzz words, it’s picking up that fallen star picket on site, talking to that resident to discuss upcoming work, going to that technical talk and listening to your team mates. It’s so much more than just a degree, numbers, drawings or spreadsheets.

What excites you about the future of the profession or what opportunities do you see for the future?
I see technology playing a larger role as an enabler for connectivity and a means to challenge the status quo. The power of us sharing knowledge, challenges, learnings and new ways of solving problems with others around the world will reinvent engineering as we know it.

Who is your engineering hero?
My dad, Carlo Muneretto, a construction engineer specialising in temporary structures. He is a master of creativity and at engineering drawing table, with a knack for the unconventional. I have always been impressed by his designs which enable construction to occur safely even in the most restricted, high risk environments. Some of his projects include: the Adelaide Oval upgrade, the South Australian Art Gallery extension, the Kangaroo Creek Dam spillway and the new Adelaide Casino. Dad has always said that maths is the language we use to communicate with the universe, he is a true conversationalist.

Image: courtesy of Louise Muneretto