Lissa van Camp: Women in Engineering profile
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Swapping a diving tank for a hard hat may not be the most obvious career path, but Suburban Rail Loop Authority’s (SRLA) Director of Land Planning and Environment Dr Lissa van Camp did just that.
Originally from Melbourne, Lissa’s early career saw her working with squid across the country – from studying marine sciences at James Cook University in Townsville, to undertaking her PhD in South Australia where she developed genetic markers to identify the reproductive success of Southern Calamari.
“Everyone thinks marine science is all about diving – it’s not. Most of the time I was in a lab coat collecting and analysing DNA.”
Although her passion for squid remains as strong as ever, Lissa eventually made the move to environmental consulting on a marine channel deepening project.
“They needed someone who understood the marine environment and that’s how I got into engineering. From there, I got exposure to different projects and – long story short – here I am working in rail!”
With career highlights including being a part of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission in South Australia, Lissa says the chance to join Suburban Rail Loop – Victoria’s largest ever transport infrastructure project – was an unmissable opportunity.
“There’s obviously a pride in being able to shape Melbourne’s future. It’s an opportunity that has never been presented before in our generation and to be a part of it is truly special.”
The role of Lissa and her team is to identify suitable land for the project, seek appropriate permissions to build, and consider measures to minimise the impacts on the community and environment.
“We have to think about what the environmental outcomes we want are, what we’re trying to protect, and how we can protect people from potential construction impacts,” Lissa says. “It’s a massive task. Most projects have got an alignment or an overlay for where they’re going to build. We’re starting from scratch, so it’s a huge job.”
As a member of the Women in Transport Steering Committee, Lissa is also leading the way for women in engineering.
“The objective of the committee is to get more women into all forms of engineering that support the transport sector. Ultimately, it’s to advocate for more equity in engineering – particularly using transport as the springboard,” Lissa says.
SRLA recently celebrated Women in Engineering Day, and Lissa says the key to success as a female in engineering is being authentic.
“The best advice I can give anyone is just be true to yourself. You can’t succeed if you’re acting all of the time.”
And the best part about working in engineering?
“For me, it’s the shared problem and the shared solution,” Lissa says. “You have to rely on shared knowledge across so many disciplines to come up with a solution that’s going to work for people. I love that.”