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Mark Henaway

Electrical engineer

Music first sparked Mark Henaway’s interest in engineering, and led to a successful, diverse career.

Talk to Mark Henaway about engineering, and the first thing he’ll mention is flying cars. “They’ve been developed and manufactured!” says the associate infrastructure engineer at Aurecon, a global engineering, design and advisory company. “They’re just not mass-marketed yet so you can’t go out and buy one.”

Flying cars aren’t the only futuristic technology Mark is thinking about in his work, which reimagines the future of transportation and a vision for what urban design in 2050 will look like. And at the heart of it all is engineering.

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“I’m currently involved in smart motorway projects to improve travel time or make it reliable, and improve the journey for our customers,” Mark says. “To be future ready, we need to put in place steps that allow us to move from our current technologies, and create systems that can adapt and evolve to the point where we can put devices on the road that communicate directly to a car.”

Electric feel

A Birri Gubba man with South Sea Island heritage, Mark’s own career journey started with his passion for music. Growing up, as he was pulling apart and rejigging his amps and musical tech, something about the design and engineering struck a chord.

“In Year 10, I worked with an electrician and it was fun just crawling through people’s houses and wiring things up. It really captured me, that this is what I want to be a part of. Then at the end of Year 12, I didn’t manage to get into university. So, I took on an electrical apprenticeship with Queensland Main Roads, which was great because it gave me a good practical baseline for what I did later through university from an academic perspective,” he says.

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Mark’s career has since taken him around the world, from light rail and road projects in New South Wales and Queensland, to working alongside colleagues using virtual reality (VR) to help people navigate through roadways and cycles and developing smart motorways for Dubai and traffic management systems for Abu Dhabi’s longest tunnel.

“I’ve pretty much done a lot of what excited me. Working in Dubai, everything is done on a bigger scale there, and particularly in my part of the industry. It really opened my eyes because I was working with people from Europe, the US, Asia and Africa,” he says.

“Working in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Qatar it was about relationships,” says Mark. “And the communication was totally different. Engineering is not just about technical things. Communication is a big part of it and developing relationships is even bigger.”

Mark’s study and career pathway

This article originally appears in Careers with STEM: Engineering 2020.

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