Day 1

17th September

Day 2

18th September

Day 3

19th September

Day 1 / 17th September


Breakfast – Women in Engineering (Invitation only)


Registrations Open  – Foyer (Refreshments served)

0830 – 0915

Conference (Darling Harbour Theatre)

Master of Ceremonies: Michael Pascoe, Fairfax Media Contributing Editor


Welcome: Peter McIntyre, CEO, Engineers Australia

Welcome to Country:

Opening Address: Hon. Trish White, National President & Chairman, Engineers Australia

0915 – 1015

Session 1 – Thinking Machines – The Promise and the Peril

A world run by robots is no longer science fiction. Robotic technology is all around us, from the cars we drive, to the machines that fight crime. But we are yet to fully explore the consequences of our increasing dependence, and their role in our daily lives. What will be the impact on a global economy? In the quest to cut production costs, the race to the bottom will be won not by people working for low wages, but by machines. As the world population ages, robots will also become home help for repetitive chores and our constant companions. The question for the future is: will we be in charge – or will they?

Keynote Speaker – Mr Ray Kurzweil, Futurist, Author, Inventor and Lead Engineer, Google

1015 – 1045

Morning Break

1045 – 1130

Session 2 – The Spanner in the Works

After taking two steps forward, there is a real risk of taking one step back. Jonar Nader warns that some of the greatest accelerators could cause us to hit a brick wall. What will cause us to falter and stumble? What are the potholes that will take the shine off the world’s greatest innovations?  Can anything be done to pre-empt the failures? Or are we destined to crash and burn after daring to challenge the immutable laws that govern a computer so grand, that it may cause its own demise?

Keynote Speaker: Jonar Nader, Digital Age Philosopher, Author and Principal, Logictivity

1140 – 1240

Session 3 –  What Will Happen to Infrastructure Design and Development when AI graduates to become HI (higher intelligence)?

People speak of Artificial Intelligence (AI) as some sort of alternative to human labour, as if AI is just a way of automating what we do. Standby the imminent future wherein computer assisted design and development of infrastructure exceeds human capability, thereby elevating most engineers to the level of genius, thanks to Higher Intelligence systems that will do more than operate faster or more efficiently. In fact Higher Intelligence (HI) will unearth new solutions to problems that had hitherto been regulated to the “too hard” basket.

Keynote Speaker:  Tim Chapman, Leader, Infrastructure Design Group, Arup Group Limited

1245 – 1345


1350 – 1450

Session 4 –  Engineers as part of the great leap forward (Panel Discussion)

It took a decade for people to understand that e-business was not about electronics in business. Rather, it refers to doing business in an electronic networked world. It was not about using technology to streamline a business, but about restructuring an entire organisation and it’s workforce so that it can function in a modern networked world. Similarly, engineers have been lapping up technological tools which had promised speed and efficiency. This is the archaic way of thinking about technology within the realm of engineering.

By 2045, engineers will partner with high-technology in order to venture into a new frontier. However, many will lag behind. Only the daring few will be at the leading edge of innovation through high technology. The new era will require a new mind-set, sharpened via a whole new set of skills that will need to be embraced. What are those skills and how will the education system need to adapt?

Moderator: Dr. Michael McAllum, Chief Steward, Centre for Future Academy and Director, Global Foresight


  1. Professor Elanor Huntington, Dean, College of Engineering & Computing, ANU
  2. Tim Chapman, Leader, Infrastructure Design Group, Arup Group Limited (UK)
  3. Roma Agrawal, Structural Engineer and author (UK)
  4. Professor Elizabeth Croft, Dean, Faculty of Engineering, Monash University


Afternoon Tea

1520 – 1620

Session 5–How the past has changed the present and how the present will change the future.

Innovation drives our industry and our world forward. How will we make sure we keep innovating? In this panel discussion, we’ll hear perspectives from the research and startup sectors.

Dr John O’Sullivan (the elder statesman): In the early 1990s, Dr O’Sullivan led the team of CSIRO researchers whose invention now exists in approximately three billion devices world-wide. At the time, there were wireless networks, but they were slow, portable computing was just starting to take off with the first laptops and in research environments, the network was starting to make its presence felt through email data transfer.  To date CSIRO has earned more than $430 million out of this technology.

Flavia Tata Nardini: (the entrepreneurial aerospace engineer), Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Fleet Space Technologies. Flavia loved space from an early age.  Now the company she founded is preparing to launch a constellation of nanosatellites to connect the Internet of Things.  Fleet’s goal is to usher in a new wave of connectivity unlike the world has ever seen, by connecting millions, even billions of devices from all corners of the globe.

Interviewer: Michael Pascoe, Fairfax Media Contributing Editor

1630 – 1730

Session 6 –  Cyber & Space Security

In response to the emergent phenomenon of information warfare, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) must adapt to a new operating environment, including the consideration of technical and non-technical information related threats. In a congested and increasingly contested information environment, the ADF must be capable of actively defending its own cyber and space-based systems.

Keynote Speakers:

Major General Marcus Thompson AM, Deputy Chief Information Warfare, Australian Defence Force

Brendon Hopper, Acting General Manager, Cyber Architecture and Business Services, Commonwealth Bank of Australia

1730 – 1930

Engineering drinks on the Balcony and in the Gallery

Day 2 / 18th September

0800 – 1200

Off-site Concurrent Forums – Collaborative Engineering (Integrated College Projects)

Off-site Forums:

On-site Forum:

Forum 13 – Cut Through Complexity and Get Things Done…The Fighter Pilot Way

Did you know that fighter pilots execute on their strategic objectives 98 percent of the time, and in business it’s as low as 13 percent. If you want to be a ’98 percenter’, Afterburner’s interactive high performance program is the first step to achieve greatness.

Inspired by the unique and uncompromising world of fighter pilots, Afterburner will share with you a team-based way of operating that will give you the agility, creativity and performance to out-think, out-plan and out-manoeuvre the opposition.  The process focusses on a logical cycle of planning, briefing, executing the plan and debriefing, and will help you survive and thrive in today’s highly complex and rapidly changing business environment. Strap yourself in for success and join the fighter pilots of Afterburner Australia for a high impact learning experience . It’s sure to be one you will never forget.

Speaker: Mr Christian Boucousis, Fighter Pilot (RET), Director, Afterburner Australia

Facilitators: Fighter Pilots, Afterburner Australia


Lunch (to be held at the forum venues)

1330 – 1400

Off-site Forum participants return to International Convention Centre (ICC), Sydney

1400 – 1530

Session 9 – Hypothetical  – Do robotic slaves have rights and can a robot love? Can it think? How about kill? 

This, of course, is a metaphor for the very complex issues, legal, ethical, moral, and religious to be faced, not only by engineers who develop robots, but by people generally as thinking machines evolve. Engineers will be at the forefront of this modern renaissance, the point in time when the advances in technology and engineering will lead to machines that are many times smarter than human beings. This singularity has begun and is accelerating fast. Geoffrey Robertson QC hosts and orchestrates a discussion on this issue using a “hypothetical” format: an imaginary situation where a panel of experts discusses its ramifications.

Keynote SpeakerGeoffrey Robertson QC, Human Rights Barrister and host of television series “Hypothetical”.


  1. The Cleric …The Rev. Simon Hansford, Moderator of the NSW & ACT Synod, Uniting Church in Australia.
  2. The Engineer …Dr Catherine Ball, Scientist, Innovator and Champion of Diversity
  3. The Ethicist …Dr Attracta Lagan, Ethicist
  4. The Digital Philosopher … Jonar Nader, Digital Age Philosopher, Author and Principal, Logictivity
  5. The Robot…Sophia the Humanoid Robot

1530 – 1630

Open Forum: During the Hypothetical in session 9, you will be encouraged to take note of questions or queries that might spring to mind. Then, during this fast-paced open forum you will have the opportunity to put your questions to the panellists and My Geoffrey Robertson QC which will enable you to seek clarification about some of the responses that the panellists had put forward. To make the Forum enjoyable and racy, the facilitator will only accept real questions (meaning that statements will not be sought) so that we can drill into the essence of the conundrums that surface during the Hypothetical.

Facilitator: Jonar Nader, Digital Age Philosopher, Author and Principal, Logictivity.

1900 – 2200

AEC Gala Dinner – Grand Ballroom

Day 3 / 19th September

0900 – 1000

The Leadership Journey: 

Changing careers is not always an easy transformation. So how have those who have taken the leap been able to tailor their leadership style as they travelled their career journey?  What were the mistakes made and the lessons learned? And was it worth it?

Moderator: Mr Michael Pascoe, Fairfax Media Contributing Editor


  1. Craig Laslett, Managing Director, Lendlease Engineering
  2. Sarah Hill, Chief Executive Officer, Greater Sydney Commission

1015 – 1130

On-site Concurrent Forums (Subjects: Leadership, Management & Risk)

1015 – 1130

Forum 1    Progressing from Project Leadership to Business Leadership:

At some point in your engineering career, you’ll need to decide between the technical track or the executive track. These paths are very different. When working on a project, the emphasis on individual effort to minimise risk sits in stark contrast to the management aspects of engineering companies. In executive management, risk and uncertainty are viewed as a normal, ever-present part of doing business. So how do you make that transition from leading a project to leading an organisation?



  1. Maureen Thurston, Global Director, Design to Innovate, Aurecon
  2. Kristen Myles, Principal Engineers, WSP
  3. Dr. Chris Jeffery, CEO and Co-founder, Field Orthopaedics

1015 – 1130

Forum 2      Engineers Can Change the World:

Whether directly or indirectly, engineers impact the lives of people in the community around them.  How can we attract the right candidates to consider a career at the leading edge of engineering?  While engineers are improving the world around us, their guiding hands frequently remain invisible.  At some point, shining a light on what engineers achieve is necessary to maintain credibility and attract new talent. But how do engineers increase their influence in society and how can they ensure that their role is appreciated and acknowledged?



  1. Stephen Langton, Managing Director, Board & CEO Advisory Group, Russell Reynolds Associates, Singapore
  2. Hon. Mark Birrell, Former Chair, Infrastructure Australia
  3. Dr Anne Hellstedt, Project Director, Office of the Dean, Melbourne School of Engineering, University of Melbourne
  4. Roma Agrawal, Structural Engineer and Author (UK)                                

1015 – 1130

Forum 3      The Genius of Naivety:

Engineers and technologists make great entrepreneurs.  Bill Gates, Dorothy Norman Spicer, James Dyson, Limor ‘Ladyada’ Fried: from the industrial greats to today’s electronics culture, they populate the realms of new business start-ups, invention and entrepreneurial endeavor. What are the special attributes needed to succeed?  And how must we support our young engineers to gain the business skills required to lead entrepreneurial businesses?

Moderator: Prof. Roy Green, Dean UTS Business School, UTS Sydney


1015 – 1130

Forum 4    The Future of Sustainability and Resilience:

Sustainability and resilience can work together across construction, transportation systems in the economy and in government. Resilience is not just the ability to bounce back from a disruption, but, rather “the capacity for a system to survive, adapt, and flourish in the face of turbulent change and uncertainty,” and resilience is not just about physical assets but also about economies and societies. Strengthening resilience today is a prerequisite for achieving long-term sustainability.



  1. Dr. Peter Newman AO, Professor of Sustainability, Curtin University
  2. Richard Palmer, Director of Sustainability, WSP

1015 – 1130

Forum 5.     The Grand Plan: Big Ideas for Australia

 This session will feature some of the big ideas that could pave the way for our prosperous nation. In the past great thinkers brought us the Snowy Mountains Scheme, Warragamba Dam, major roadways, The Sydney Harbour Bridge, expansive rail networks, a broad range of mining plus other innovations that have put Australia on the map. What is the way forward? We have invited a range of visionaries to tell us where Australia ought to invest.

After each brief presentation our panellists will provide their feedback. We will film this session and forward the top ideas to our senior Government thought leaders. At the conclusion of this session some presenters will be invited into our studio to conduct a short interview for or social media channels. Members of the media and our own reporters from Create magazine will be on hand to chronicle the gems.

As a delegate of the conference you are encouraged to contact us if you or your firm has an innovative idea. When you register for this session please tick the appropriate box so that we can contact you and possibly invite you to share your big idea in front of the other delegates at this session.

Facilitator: Jonar Nader, Digital Age Philosopher, Author and Principal, Logictivity


  1. Naomi Simson, Entrepreneur and host of Shark Tank Australia
  2. Michael Donovan, Business Mentor and Coach

Morning Tea served during the concurrent sessions

1200 – 1300


1310– 1410

Session 11 –Advancing our Cities’ Liveability, Workability and Sustainability

Cities have to offer attractive and affordable environments in which to live. Currently property is expensive and transport systems are grinding to a halt as they become more crowded. That’s why city planners need to think very carefully about how they free up more housing, add more transport capacity and how they plan for additional future capacity. But they also need to plan in the context of increasing energy costs and government austerity. Technology can help them function better — with better security, better real-time monitoring, better information and better connectedness with government. This is what cities need to think about to be better, more caring and more friendly places to live.

Keynote Speaker:  Sir Rod Eddington AO, Non-executive Director and former Chair, Infrastructure Australia 

Interviewer: Dr. Peter Newman AO, Professor of Sustainability, Curtin University

1420 – 1520

Session 12 – What is our future?

Keynote Speaker:   

1530 – 1615

A Conversation in Space

Air Marshall Geoff Brown AO will have a conversation with an astronaut currently habituating the International Space Station which will be followed by questions from the audience.

Hosted by: Air Marshall Geoff Brown AO, Former Chief of the Air Force 2011 – 2015

1615 – 1630

Concluding Remarks:  

Mr Peter McIntyre, CEO of Engineers Australia