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Leah Fisher

Principal Engineer – KBR

Graduate Certificate – Pavement Technology

How did you hear about CPEE course?

I first heard about CPEE when I was the Regional Manager for AustStab – the industry association for pavement stabilisation and recycling. AustStab have run the one day stabilisation course with CPEE for many years, and over time it became one of responsibilities to not only promote our course, but to deliver it with Bob Andrews and Phil Walters and Geoff Webb. One of the opening sessions at the course talks to the origins of CPEE, through the lack of delivery of undergraduate training in pavements at universities in Australia. When you sit through the course enough times, and become involved with the CPEE team for long enough, it’s hard not to know about the postgraduate training courses or the incredible people who deliver the courses and develop the materials. They are boffans, gurus and gentlefolk.  

What motivated you to look at the course and the decision to act on an application ?

My background is in construction contracting. Anyone that I speak with knows that the smell of bitumen in the morning is something that makes me feel excited, or rings my bell. However, I’m currently working for a design company and I felt that given that I’ve built roads for 25+ years, I should finally learn how to design them if I was going to have any credibility as a designer. A bit of a lull at work and a desire to continuously learn, promoted me to action. I also have sons who are currently completing undergraduate study, and I felt that it would enable me to be a little more empathetic towards them if I was reminded of the challenges of balancing work and study. I think that they also enjoy listening to me talk with them about the challenges of looming deadlines at Uni. 

How have you found the delivery of the course ?

I have really enjoyed the online delivery component of the course. My lecturer, David Hazell, may find that I’m a little chatty in our weekly zoom sessions … but I think that as a cohort we are all enjoying getting to know each other, as well as learning from David and each other. It’s really nice to set aside time to see what developments have happened in road design since I moved away from it a few years ago. It’s nice to see which of my colleagues are publishing what articles, specifications or guidelines. I am enjoying the practical nature of the assignments. Learning how to write a technical report for the first time is a little challenging. It’s different to a commercial or contractual or bid style of writing. I think that I have a little way to go with it. I have enjoyed talking about my assignments at work, and trying to get my work colleagues to help me have a deeper understanding of the course material. I do not however, like stress and strain. I didn’t as an undergraduate …. And I still don’t. 

Do you have an expectation on how this course qualification will change you, your career path?

I’m not really sure how it will change my career path. I’ve been involved with engineering and construction for a while and I know that every new skill that I learn opens up new opportunities for me. I just need to be ready to accept them when they turn up.