In the lead up to National Volunteer Week, three engineers share how volunteering with EA is enabling them to shape the future of engineering.
Volunteers give their time, expertise, and even their heart. But it isn’t all one way. They’re also rewarded with networking opportunities, new skills and personal satisfaction.
Create Digital speaks to three Engineers Australia volunteers about the professional and personal benefits of volunteering.
Moving the needle on DEI
When Nahid Alemi Kermani attended her first Engineers Australia South Australia Division Committee meeting in January, she was surprised to learn she was the youngest elected member and one of only two female members in the committee.
“While it wasn’t my first time being in such a position, it still caught me off guard,” said Nahid, who is a Space System Engineer at Deloitte.
“At that moment I made a person’s commitment to utilise this platform and work towards promoting a more balanced and equitable environment across all engineering fields.”
Nahid, who is also a member of the Engineers Australia Diversity and Inclusion sub-committee, is passionate about closing the gap in engineering for groups that are traditionally underrepresented.
“I continue to be motivated by a strong sense of responsibility and purpose. I believe that I owe my time and energy to the engineering community, particularly those who require our support and attention such as migrant engineers, young engineers and female engineers,” said Nahid.
“[The committee and sub-committee tries] to take practical actions to support EA’s culture change agenda – working with a growth mindset, partnering across our networks, focusing on outcomes and demonstrating respectful authenticity.
“I strive to share my knowledge and ideas on ways to foster connections between women, LGBTQIA+ individuals, First Nations people and Indigenous communities [within] STEM fields, particularly engineering,” said Nahid who joined EA in her first year of university.
The biggest lesson that Nahid has learnt from volunteering with EA is that immense impact can be achieved through collective effort.
“Being a part of a team that is dedicated to a common cause has taught me that small contributions can add up to create significant change.”
Building the next generation of engineers
During his military career, Drew Jardine CEng benefitted from some great mentors.
“I was very fortunate to have this experience, so now I’m trying to pass that on to others. I’m passionate about the engineering profession. Enthusiasm and commitment to the profession is what I try to impart onto younger engineers,” said Drew, who joined EA as soon as he landed in Darwin from the UK on an official military posting in 2015.
A few years later, he was deployed to Cairns before becoming Senior Mechanical Engineer at BAE Systems in 2019.
He tries to ingrain the importance of achieving and maintaining professional recognition through EA with the next generation.
“It’s still often considered something to obtain if you want to have it, but I think the approach needs to be that people should and need to have professional recognition. It’s really important to demonstrate your commitment and competency as an engineer.”
For Drew, the networking opportunities that volunteering with EA has granted him has been particularly valuable.
“I’ve recruited many people after meeting them at networking events. I’ve had students come up to me and I’ve been able to take them on as interns, then employ them as graduates and help them develop their expertise. That’s really satisfying and rewarding.”
One of Drew’s proudest achievements is helping to lead EA’s Cairns Regional Group.
“When I arrived in Cairns, the group was slightly waning. We’ve managed to turn that around and have a very active group. We run monthly CPD meetings and we’re in our fifth year of facilitating our annual dinner. We’re going from strength to strength.”
After serving as Co-Chairman and then Chair of the Cairns Regional EA committee, Drew passed the baton to Chris Pitcher in 2021.
“Chris is only 25 and it’s his second year as chair. His deputy is only 29. They’re doing a fantastic job.
“I really enjoy mentoring and developing the next generation.”
“A great honour and privilege”
Under Tamer Naguib’s CEngT leadership, and for the first time in the history of any EA international chapter, the Qatar Chapter became a self-sustaining chapter last year.
The unprecedented achievement filled Tamar with a sense of pride and satisfaction.
It’s one of three key successes that stand out to him during his time as a volunteer with EA.
The other moment was when he was elected as the President of the Qatar Chapter in 2021, after becoming a committee member of EA’s Qatar Chapter in 2020, and then being elected as the Deputy President of the chapter in 2021.
“It was definitely a mixed feeling of joy and self-satisfaction for achieving this position, but at the same time I felt a sense of increased responsibility towards the members of the chapter.”
In his role as President, Tamar holds various responsibilities including to oversee and lead the Qatar chapter, set the annual objectives and goals of the chapter, deliver services such as continuous professional development to chapter members who live and work in Qatar, and to promote the engineering profession locally and globally through panel discussion, technical discussions, industry roundtables and thought leader forums.
The third moment came at the beginning of this year when Tamar was appointed as the Overseas International Chapters representative to Engineers Australia National Congress.
“It was such a great honour and privilege to assume this role as I will have the opportunity to make a positive impact on the engineering community both locally and globally, and to contribute towards shaping the future of the engineering profession within Australia and worldwide.”