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Top 100 : 2009
COVER STORY – TOP 100 AUSTRALIA’S MOST INFLUENTIAL ENGINEERS POLITICS / OTHER Mary O’Kane, 54 NSW Chief Scientist and Scientifi c Engineer, Sydney Computer engineer, Australian National University L ate last year, the NSW government appointed Emeritus Professor Mary O’Kane to the new post of chief scientist and scientifi c engineer. In this role she advises the government on aligning research in universities and laboratories with the state’s priorities. She chaired the committee that draft ed the government’s response to a review of nano- technology. She said that the response, published last month, strikes a balance between encouraging the nanotechnology industry and allaying public fears about the hazards it could pose. O’Kane is also helping the government implement its policies on openness, raising the number of maths teachers and motivating young people to study science. Her business, O’Kane and Associates, carries out large reviews for governments. It is currently reviewing Australia’s museums for the federal government. In 2008 it reviewed the system of Cooperative Research Centres and in 2007 it investigated the Bureau of Meteorology. Aft er completing a PhD in automatic speech recognition, O’Kane embarked on an academic career, going on to become the founding dean of engineering at the University of Canberra and vice-chancellor of the University of Adelaide. Ken Michael, 71 Governor of Western Australia, Perth Civil engineer, University of Western Australia K en Michael has been the governor of Western Australia since 2006. In a speech given at the University of Western Australia in March, he said his engineering education had shaped his outlook on life. “I have learnt over the years to keep the discipline and logic of structural engineering at the forefront to guide my thinking in all kinds of situations,” he said. “This was my framework, my set of tools to remind me of the importance of choosing the right things as a leader and making sure they are managed right with the right people. Like all good problem solving techniques, this reminded me that the outcome is only as good as the assumptions made at the outset and these assumptions need to be revisited during the course of the process.” Prior to becom- ing governor, Michael held senior positions in Western Australia, including that of commissioner of Main Roads. He was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia in 2006. 60 ENGINEERS AUSTRALIA | JUNE 2009 Greg Combet, 51 Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change, Federal Government, Canberra Member for Charlton Mining engineer, University of NSW G reg Combet was appointed parliamentar y secretary for climate change in February and is involved in implementing the gove r nment ’s promised emissions trading scheme. Prior to that he was in charge of defence procurement. Before running for parliament, Combet was secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions and participated in the campaign to obtain compensation for former employees of James Hardie now suff ering asbestos-related diseases. On top of his mining engineering qualifi cation, Combet has a bachelor of economics, and a graduate diploma in labour relations and law.