A century of achievement 1913 - 2013
Faculty of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences

Faculty of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences

Bill Southwood


Electrical Engineering

Director, Wallaga Pty Ltd

All my life I have used the skills I was taught from engineering and most jobs I attained, were from developing contacts and getting to know people. 

I originally intended to study Science or Chemistry but I was persuaded to study engineering by a Professor of Mechanical. UWA had a very good engineering department and a nice campus. I chose Electrical because I had always been keen on electrical sets, telephones and magnetos. I enjoyed the basis in mathematics and wherever I had the option I would study more maths. I effectively did an honours degree in maths as part of my five year engineering degree.

While maths is the language of engineering, the second part is creativity. I love the fact that you can solve problems with the combination of these aspects of engineering.

My first boss was a wise old Scot, David Abercrombie, Chief Engineer at the Overseas Telecommunications Commission (long since absorbed into Telstra). Abercrombie claimed that an engineer needed to assume only two things – the constancy of the velocity of light, and the permittivity of free space.  From these he claimed one could derive all other laws and rationally be able to solve problems. This is the greatest gift of engineering - it never leaves you. 

Even when dealing with diverse situations from people politics to change management and training, engineers can use their skills to think logically about the causes and effects of situations, while also look for creative and technical solutions.

I have been fortunate to have a fantastic employer with a huge amount of freedom. At Arup Communications I built a team of one (me!) into a global ICT consultancy of nearly 500 people from around the world, from Europe to Asia, to the United States and Australia. I sought to engage young aspiring people, brighter than me, with recognisable talent and enthusiasm.

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