In last few months we have introduced you Kyle and Ben, but there are 5 of us in Topo. We endeavour to catch up with the remainder of the team in the upcoming months and learn more about them. Starting with Steven Chamberlain.
Steven is a principal environmental engineer and a director here at Topo and brings to the table significant experience in water quality and hydrologic/hydraulic modelling. Throughout his career, he has also undertaken flood studies and hydraulic impact assessments ranging in size from small overland flows to regional catchment assessments.
Steven, tell us about your career so far?
Since graduating from Griffith University with an Environmental Engineering degree in 2002, I have worked for multiple private consulting companies. I started off as a graduate acoustic engineer, but pretty quickly switched to a job that let me work in the area I am passionate about, that being water. Since then I have been very heavily involved in modelling, preparing stormwater management plans, drainage and basin designs, flood studies and erosion and sediment control plans.
I have also returned to Griffith University as a sessional lecturer, presenting erosion and sediment control to the 3rd year engineering students undertaking a design subject.
What drew you to environmental engineering in the first place?
I was a bit unsure what to do when I left school and was considering Environmental and Microelectronic Engineering. Turns out I made a wrong choice, and after a number of painful years I completed the degree but spent the following few years working as a cleaner and security guard to supplement my surfing trips. After a few months overseas, I went back to uni as a mature age student to study Environmental Engineering and much to my relief, found this was something I truly enjoyed.
What aspect of your job you like the most? Why?
I like the fact that what we are doing makes a difference to the health of the waterways where I love to play. Through my travels, I’ve seen places with no controls on the release of stormwater or treatment objectives, and while there is debate about how effective the WSUD systems we are constructing actually are, there is no doubt in my mind that we are making a big difference.
I also enjoy solving problems and spend far too much time modelling culverts and basin outlet structures trying to reduce volumes as far as possible while still maintaining flow rates for the full range of design events. I think back at some of the staged outlet structures I have proposed and wonder how much the contractor cursed me on site when they had to build it!
How did the idea of Topo come about and what did it mean for you?
I had always wanted to work for myself, but it took a long time to get the courage to take that step. I have always been drawn to smaller companies, so with the company structure changing at my previous employer and an offer of some casual work preparing flood studies, I took the plunge. I was fortunate enough to end up with the other guys who decided they too were keen to work in a smaller organisation that values the opinions of other staff and recognises the importance of a healthy lifestyle and work/life balance. Hence the formation of Topo…
What are you passionate about besides your work?
My wife 😊 We are huge fans of the ocean and always holiday near the beach. With my kids being Nippers, I have become heavily involved in surf life saving and am a patrolling member at Dicky Beach.
I also love food (the spicier the better), fishing, mountain biking, and photography. The guys I share my office with will tell you I’m a big fan of music, preferably punk and the faster the better! I still try to get to as many live shows as possible, but I am obviously getting a bit too old for the mosh pit as it seems to take days to recover!