Renny Chivunga

MIEAust

Water Network Engineer

Renny Chivunga is a chemical engineer, pilot, model, and fitness instructor. As an engineer she has held positions within mineral processing RND, water planning and wastewater treatment and now works as a water network engineer.

After high school she completed a private pilot’s licence. Modelling has allowed participation in New York fashion week, an appearance alongside Leonardo DiCaprio and Toby Maguire in the movie the Great Gatsby, and a villain role in Flight Facilities song Foreign Language.

How long have you been a member of Engineers Australia?
I have been a member of Engineers Australia since I was a student; probably since 2002. When I took time to explore a modelling career, I made sure I applied for concession so that I remained associated with Engineers Australia – an organisation I believe to be a voice for our profession.

Why did you pursue a career in engineering?
The drive for personal excellence, passion for knowledge, enthusiasm for inspiring and challenging others around me to be the best they can be within the water and wastewater industry, all stem from my upbringing in Zimbabwe.

Although my education continued to ignite a curiosity for the industry, fundamentally it is the state of the water and wastewater infrastructure in my home country Zimbabwe that continues to move me to seek greater understanding and to make a difference in the local community and beyond. The deteriorating water and wastewater infrastructure in Zimbabwe provided a compelling reason to complete a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering, majoring in detailed understanding of conventional water and wastewater treatment processes.

How can Australian communities/people/society benefit from your work now and in the future?
Being raised in a third world context gives me a determination to ensure that under my watch no one will be deprived of basic needs. My commitment to ensuring high quality essential services implies that I will be courageous enough to fight for the communities, people, and society I am privileged to serve. I also believe detailed understanding of conventional water and wastewater treatment processes are skills that I can apply globally and I am very deliberate I about preparing myself for a future that facilitates application of these skills in a global context.

For example I am the Project Leader for WaterAid’s Winnovator Challenge, Team Emanti Hunters. Emanti Hunters is a group of 10 multicultural professionals, solving water, hygiene, and sanitation problems for the village of Ka-Ben in eSwatini (former Swaziland).

Participation in the Winnovator Challenge is a dream come true, allowing me to undergo a full dress rehearsal of the skills required to make a difference in a developing country. The team and I have been afforded the opportunity to learn how to solve and fund water and sanitation solutions. The aim is to build a lasting legacy by constantly remembering the onward progress of the liberation movement, the determination of the African people to free themselves or partner with other nations to facilitate freedom in every sense of the word.

What is the most challenging or interesting project you’ve ever worked on?
I was privileged enough to work as the Water Network Representative for novel recycled water schemes. The privilege of pinioning cross connection removal, recycled water dual reticulation awareness training, monitoring programs, and incidence response plans was very exciting and scary. However, I am convinced that there is no growth without occasionally taking on something the absolutely petrifies you.

What do you see as one of the biggest issues facing the engineering profession?
The rate of adoption of new technology in certain industries, i.e. costs preventing innovation. Ensuring sustainable development especially in the developing world when corruption does not always demand accountability. The development of women to ensure success within senior leadership roles across all engineering sectors.

What excites you about the future of the profession or what opportunities do you see for the future?
I am excited about how the Internet of Things (IoT) will shape how we work and live. I am excited about emerging technologies for future-proofing water and wastewater catchments. How quickly communities not accustomed to drinking recycled water will change their perception.

Who is your engineering hero?
My heroes are those who take the time to develop those around them irrespective of sex, race, and age. Those who dispense knowledge honestly without holding back out of insecurity and a fear that if they dispense that knowledge to another that person might be their replacement. Heroes to me are those who know, “what you sow you will reap.”

Images: courtesy of Renny Chivunga