Water engineer

    Erica Deegan

    Water engineer

    Erica Deegan is in charge of all things water at City of Launceston

    Water engineer Erica loved maths, science and problem-solving as she went through school in her home state of Tasmania, so she signed up for a degree in environmental engineering – jumping the Bass Strait to enrol at UNSW Sydney.

    “I was always interested in water and chose water electives,” Erica says. “I love that, as a water engineer, you can see what you’re working on in real life.”

    After graduating, Erica kickstarted her career at UNSW’s Water Research Laboratory. Her work with the lab focused on coastal engineering and hazards. A highlight, she says, was the regular trips to the Gold Coast to study sand movement using remote sensing.

    Keen to return home, Erica went back to Tasmania, where she spent time in higher education and later at a specialist consulting firm, before landing a job as a water engineer with her current employer, City of Launceston.

    Her responsibilities as a water engineer include looking after the city’s stormwater network and preparing for and managing flooding emergencies – and she’s had her work cut out for her.

    “Working as a water engineer here is particularly challenging, as portions of Launceston have a very old and complex combined stormwater and sewerage network,” Erica explains.

    In fact, Launceston, one of Australia’s oldest cities, has the last combined drainage system of its kind, of any significant size, still operating in Australia. Also, the city’s location at the junction of three rivers makes flooding a real risk – so its water engineers have to be at the top of their game.

    Erica loves her job and loves knowing her work makes a difference. “I love that I can see the impact of my work out and about in the city where I live,” she says.

    Recently, Erica has been promoted to leader of the council’s water team; she now manages other water engineers and scientists. Her goal is to nurture her leadership skills in this new role.

    RELATED: Keen on becoming a water engineer? Check out our STEM + Resources & Energy hub!

    Erica’s study and career path to becoming a water engineer

    • Bachelor of Engineering (Environmental) / Bachelor of Science (Geography), UNSW
    • Project engineer, UNSW Water Research Laboratory
    • Environmental engineer, Synrinx Environmental
    • Water engineer, City of Launceston
    • Team leader, Water, City of Launceston

    This profile originally appears in Careers with STEM: Engineering 2022.

    Gemma Chilton

    Author: Gemma Chilton

    Gemma is the Managing Editor of Careers with STEM magazine. She has previously worked as Digital Managing Editor at Australian Geographic and a staff writer at Cosmos science magazine.

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