Women in Engineering

"While women only make up 11.8 per cent of the engineering workforce in Australia, according to data from the 2011 census, both Susan and Angela have never seen this as a barrier."

In what might be seen as a traditionally male dominated field of work, two local women are paving the way in the region’s local engineering industry.

Born and raised in the Scenic Rim, both Susan Shay and Angela Harlen have strong ties to the region and its community. By seizing an opportunity and combining both their passions for business and engineering, the pair are now servicing the Scenic Rim through their company ACS Engineers.

Based in Beaudesert, ACS Engineers is a Civil and Environmental Engineering and Project Management company, assisting a range of clients from homeowners and councils to agricultural and industrial developers.

With Angela’s background in business and Susan’s 17 years experience in the civil and environmental consultancy industry and as a Registered Professional Engineer Queensland (RPEQ), the pair established the company back in June 2016. This came after having worked together for six years for Ryacon Engineers.

“In April of 2016, the owner of Ryacon Engineers decided to retire and the options were that someone buys the business from him or it would fold and close its doors,” Angela said.

“Susan called me late one night and said that we owe it to our community to provide them with engineering solutions and to keep smart minds here in the Scenic Rim.”

Three years on, the company now employs an additional six staff and works closely with the community on a number of civil, environmental and management projects.

“Taking on the risk of purchasing an engineering business and not being an Engineer was very daunting at the start,” Angela said.

“But I love the people that I work with and enjoy observing them solving problems of the ever-changing world we live in. I never realised how interesting flushing a toilet or rubbish dumps could be.”

With respective families of their own, both Susan and Angela have had to find the balance between work and family life and are thankful they can wholeheartedly trust and rely upon one another.

“We have a lot of trust between us and we let each other get on with our jobs,” Angela said. “Our children are all much the same age, so we have shared the journey of raising children together and gone through the struggles together. I have one hundred per cent trust in Susan and we never question one another. We get on with the job at hand.”

While women only make up 11.8 per cent of the engineering workforce in Australia, according to data from the 2011 census, both Susan and Angela have never seen this as a barrier.

“I am one of four girls, and growing up I wasn’t even aware that there was an opinion that maths and science were for boys and not girls. I have always assumed it is a person's right to pursue their chosen career,” Susan said.

“There are certainly not many women in engineering but I have never felt anything but welcomed and respected in the meeting room or work site. After all, we have all studied the same course. I think women bring an added dimension to engineering, empathy and practicality.”

A strong driving force behind the mission of ACS Engineers is both Susan and Angela’s commitment to their local community.

“I feel really blessed to live and work in the Scenic Rim,” Susan said.

“I have my roots here and am grateful that I can pursue my profession here and contribute to good outcomes for local business, our community and region.”

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