Disciplines

Prior to lodging your application, you will need to determine in what discipline of engineering you will seek assessment. 

Your selected discipline will cover your areas of expertise and the areas in which you practice. Each discipline will cover a range of areas and you are not expected to cover all of them. As a registered professional engineer, you should only practice in your areas of expertise within your discipline of registration, irrespective of what other areas may be included within the general discipline description. 

The descriptions below are a guide to professional engineers about what is covered in an area of engineering for the purposes of the PER Act. It is the responsibility of a professional engineer to apply the descriptions to the professional engineering services they intend to undertake to determine whether, and in which area/s of engineering, they need to be registered to perform those services. 

Descriptions are provided in the dropdown boxes below. You may wish to refer to the By-laws for more detailed descriptions. 
Chemical engineers apply the principles of chemistry, biology, physics, and mathematics to solve problems that involve the production or use of chemicals, fuel, pharmaceuticals, food, and similar complex manufacture products. They design processes and equipment for large-scale manufacturing, plan and test methods of manufacturing products and treating by products and supervise production.

Modern chemical engineering is also concerned with pioneering valuable new materials and techniques, such as nanotechnology, fuel cells and biomedical engineering.

Work Experience


Applicants shall have a minimum of five years’ work experience, as a chemical engineer, in areas such as:
  • Developing new and/or improve existing processes to create better quality, more efficient or environmentally sound manufacturing processes and materials, or improving uses for existing materials.
  • Designing methods and equipment to control and contain the processes that transform basic materials into useful products.
  • Evaluate equipment and processes to ensure compliance with safety and environmental regulations.
  • Conduct studies into the hazards of operation of complex and large-scale manufacturing plants and develop safe operating methods and mitigations.
  • Ensuring the safe, efficient and environmentally sound operation of equipment and test products at various stages of production to check their quality.
  • Develop layout plans, production line balances and specifications for new production plants, taking into account available technology, the cost and size of equipment and storage space, market requirements, transport methods and disposal of surplus substances.
  • Identifying faults in the day-to-day operation of process plants (such as oil refining, steel making and water treatment) and take corrective action.
  • Bioprocess engineering involving pharmaceuticals and the food and drink industries.
  • Chemical process engineering involving the fertiliser industry, pesticides and herbicides, caustic soda, glass and specialty chemicals.
  • Combustion, involving large industrial furnaces such as those for steel manufacture or power generation from coal or gas.
  • Petrochemical engineering involving the conversion of oil and gas into plastics, synthetic rubber and similar end uses.
  • Project delivery involving the construction of a process plant and converting design into an efficient, safe operating plant.
  • Process control engineering involving the instrumentation and control systems, enabling a manufacturing process to run smoothly, safely and efficiently.
  • Petroleum engineering involving the production of oil, gas and LPG from onshore and offshore fields.
Civil engineers are fundamental to the planning, designing, construction, operation and maintenance of key infrastructure such as buildings, airports, factories, roads, bridges, railways, transportation systems, dams, sewerage, harbours, canals and dockyards (DEEWR 2013).

Work Experience


Applicants shall have a minimum of five years’ work experience, as a civil engineer, in areas such as:
  • Plan, design and supervise the building of roads, bridges and railways to ensure vital transportation infrastructure.
  • Adhere to applicable processes and practices to ensure realisation of civil infrastructure and services.
  • Evaluate civil design solutions against the requirements of original specifications.
  • Interpret and apply Australian Building Codes and relevant Australian Standards during the design of civil infrastructure.
  • Participate in detailed engineering design involving mathematical calculations, writing of specifications and drafting of drawings specific to major civil infrastructure.
  • Plan, design and oversee the construction of high-rise buildings, apartments, stadiums, shopping complexes, airports, hospitals and entertainment centres.
  • Maintenance management of existing harbours, canals, dockyards and airports.
  • Perform computer-simulated modelling and analyse resultant data on behaviour of key components and systems used in civil works.
  • Supervise para-professionals, technicians and construction workers during the implementation of civil engineering projects.
  • Assess condition of existing civil infrastructure and write reports highlighting recommendations on safety, maintenance, refurbishment, remaining life expectancy and demolition.
  • Write plans, standards, procedures, work instructions and forms.
  • Plan and carry out demolition of old buildings using implosion.
  • Review and propose amendments to Australian Building Codes and relevant Australian Standards.
  • Specify, evaluate and purchase engineering products and services.
  • Improve existing engineering products, processes and services.
  • Create an awareness of new civil technology and where applicable, attain intellectual property rights.
  • Liaise with mechanical, structural and electrical engineers to ensure optimum integration of civil infrastructure with other services.
  • Liaise with project stakeholders such as clients, end-users, contractors, suppliers and government agencies to facilitate effective and efficient communications.
  • Listen carefully to project clients and sponsors in order to gain an understanding of requirements that feed into the engineering design process.

(AusIMM 2013, DEEWR 2013, Engineers Australia 2013, IBISWorld 2012, IET 2013).
Electrical engineers are professionals that undertake design, construction, commissioning and maintenance of electrical systems and machines used in power generation, electricity distribution, communications, process control, manufacturing and lighting applications (DEEWR 2013).

Work Experience


Applicants shall have a minimum of five years’ work experience, as an electrical engineer, in areas such as:
  • Design, install, maintain and operate equipment and systems used in large electrical power generation plant in connection with coal-fired and hydro-type power stations.
  • Manage the processes applicable to ensure the safe, stable, reliable and economic generation of electrical energy using conventional and/or renewable methods.
  • Design, install, maintain and operate equipment and systems used in the transmission and distribution of electricity across Australia’s electricity network.
  • Manage the processes applicable to ensure the safe, reliable and economic transmission and distribution of electrical energy across Australia’s electricity network.
  • Interpret and apply relevant Australian Standards and international standards during the design of electrical systems and components.
  • Review and propose amendments to relevant Australian Standards and international standards.
  • Oversee the installation, commissioning and maintenance of generators, turbines, electrical drives, motors, transformers, bus bars, switchboards and control systems.
  • Design electrical systems consisting of main switchboards, distribution boards and electrical cabling.
  • Design and maintain lighting systems for office complexes, shopping centres, hospitals, stadiums, train stations, roadways, airfields and tunnels.
  • Design and maintain electrical signalling for railways.
  • Design and oversee the manufacture of electrical components and electronic systems.
  • Installation and programming of SCADA and PLC systems to ensure control of process plant and assembly lines.
  • Participate in detailed engineering design involving application of theory, mathematical calculations, writing of specifications and drafting of drawings specific to electrical components, cables, systems and major electrical engineering infrastructure.
  • Adhere to applicable electrical engineering processes and practices to ensure realisation of products and services.
  • Evaluate electrical design solutions against the requirements of original specifications.
  • Write plans, standards, procedures, work instructions and forms.
  • Investigate and document the causes of major electrical failure, and provide subsequent recommendations on how to eliminate future occurrences of failure.
  • Specify, evaluate and purchase engineering products and services.
  • Improve existing engineering products, processes and services.
  • Create an awareness of new electrical and electronic technology and where applicable, attain intellectual property rights.
  • Liaise with civil, mechanical and structural engineers to ensure optimum integration of electrical systems with other services.

(AusIMM 2013, DEEWR 2013, Engineers Australia 2013, IBISWorld 2012, IET 2013).
Environmental engineers use the principles of engineering, soil science, biology, and chemistry to develop solutions to environmental problems. They are involved in efforts to improve recycling, waste disposal, public health, and water and air pollution control. They also address global issues, such as unsafe drinking water, climate change, and environmental sustainability.

Work Experience


Applicants shall have a minimum of five years’ work experience, as an environmental engineer, undertaking the following types of activities:
  • Prepare, review, and update environmental investigation reports.
  • Design projects leading to environmental protection, such as water reclamation facilities, air pollution control systems, and operations that convert waste to energy.
  • Obtain, update, and maintain plans, permits, and standard operating procedures.
  • Provide technical support for environmental remediation projects and for legal actions.
  • Analyse scientific data and do quality-control checks.
  • Monitor the progress of environmental improvement programs.
  • Inspect industrial and municipal facilities and programs to ensure compliance with environmental regulations.
  • Advise corporations and government agencies about procedures for cleaning up contaminated sites.

Environmental engineers conduct hazardous-waste management studies in which they evaluate the significance of the hazard and advise on treating and containing it. They also design systems for municipal and industrial water supplies and industrial wastewater treatment, and research the environmental impact of proposed construction projects. Environmental engineers in government develop regulations to prevent mishaps.

Some environmental engineers study ways to minimize the effects of acid rain, global warming, automobile emissions, and ozone depletion. They also collaborate with environmental scientists, planners, hazardous waste technicians, engineers, and other specialists, such as experts in law and business, to address environmental problems and environmental sustainability.
Geotechnical engineers undertake the activities of site investigation, laboratory testing, supervision, data interpretation, analysis, design and monitoring for foundations, slopes, retaining structures, embankments, roadways, tunnels, levees, wharves, landfills, mines, nearshore/offshore oil and gas structures and other systems that are made of or are supported by soil or rock. (DEEWR 2013, AusIMM 2013).

Work Experience


Applicants shall have a minimum of five years’ work experience, as a geotechnical engineer, in areas such as:
  • Plan, design, specify and supervise/overview the construction of geotechnical works for roads, railways, bridges, buildings, tunnels, airports, levees, ports, landfills, mines or oil and gas structures.
  • Develop and evaluate geotechnical investigation programmes based on project scope, site history analysis and needs by other design disciplines.
  • Perform geotechnical field and laboratory tests by directing field investigation programmes and monitoring contractors to conduct tests.
  • Analyse geotechnical data and report on classification and evaluation of subsurface conditions.
  • Develop geotechnical design and analytical models.
  • Derive design parameters for geotechnical materials and structures.
  • Participate in engineering design by empirical, analytical, numerical and physical modellings utilising field and laboratory test results and available data, regarding:
    • bearing capacity,
    • foundation type, depth and dimensions,
    • allowable soil bearing pressures,
    • potential settlement,
    • slope stability,
    • excavations,
    • tunnelling,
    • geotechnical risk assessment,
    • retaining systems,
    • ground improvement,
    • dewatering/drainage,
    • floor support,
    • pavement evaluation and design,
    • site preparation,
    • earthworks, including geomaterial
    • specification and usage,
    • liquefaction potential,
    • seismic hazards,
    • ground response to seismic forces,
    • foundation response to cyclic loading,
    • foundation response to long term sustained loading,
    • ground water problems; seepage,
    • geoenvironmental hazards
    • underpinning, and
    • other geotechnical issues and problems.
  • Liaise with civil, structural, chemical, durability, environmental and mechanical engineers to identify risks and ensure integration of foundation systems with other design areas.
  • Recommend practical geotechnical solutions to reduce the risk.
  • Design and evaluate instrumentation programmes to monitor settlement, displacement, porewater pressure, ground water variations, and stress and strains in foundation structures.
  • Supervise installation and maintenance of site instrumentation and data collection systems.
  • Collect monitoring data, analyse and report trends.
  • Verify design assumptions during construction.
  • Develop and advise on remedial actions upon identifying geotechnical risks from monitoring data.
  • Supervise para-professionals, technicians and construction workers during the fabrication and installation of foundation systems.
  • Assess the condition of existing foundations and write reports highlighting recommendations on safety, maintenance, remaining life expectancy and remedial actions.
  • Write plans, standards, specifications, procedures, work method statements, work instructions and forms.
  • Review and propose amendments to relevant Australian legislations, Australian Standards and International Standards.
  • Investigate and document the causes of geotechnical failure and provide subsequent recommendations on how to eliminate future occurrences of failure.
  • Specify, evaluate and purchase geotechnical engineering products and services.
  • Perform and publish research to develop new geological/geotechnical theories, methods and approaches to project investigation, evaluation, design, construction, closure and rehabilitation.
  • Improve existing geotechnical engineering products, processes and services.
  • Create an awareness of new geotechnical technology and where applicable, attain intellectual property rights.

(AusIMM 2013, DEEWR 2013, Engineers Australia 2013, IBISWorld 2012, IET 2013)
Information, telecommunications, and electronics engineering deals with scientific engineering design to develop computer modelling tools, broadband capability, improve telecommunications systems, hardware and software, systems for media broadcasting and sound, and sophisticated electronics.

Work Experience


Applicants shall have a minimum of five years’ work experience, as an information technology/telecommunications professional, in areas such as:

  • Research and develop antennas, waveguides and satellite dishes.
  • Research and develop wireless and cable communications systems.
  • Research and develop digital signal processing technologies ensuring faster data transfer rates and higher quality voice communications.
  • Review existing wireless and cable communications services used by business and draft reports recommending alternate products in order to improve the level of service at a lower cost.
  • Interpret client documentation and prepare hardware requirements specifications for use by hardware engineers.
  • Design computer and communications systems based on the functional requirements detailed in hardware requirements specifications.
  • Review existing computer hardware and software infrastructure within companies and propose new systems in order to gain competitive advantages through automation, productivity and process streamlining.
  • Develop and test mission-critical systems composed of hardware and software.
  • Interpret client documentation and prepare software requirements specifications for use by software engineers.
  • Draft and apply waterfall models, spiral models, Nassi-Schneiderman models, use case diagrams and activity flow diagrams in the development of software applications.
  • Design software applications based on the functional requirements in software requirements specifications.
  • Install, configure and develop database systems and front end applications to satisfy the information management needs of businesses.
  • Adhere to applicable processes and practices to ensure realisation of information technology products and services.
  • Evaluate information technology and telecommunications design solutions against the requirements of original specifications.
  • Specify, evaluate and purchase information technology and telecommunications products and services.
  • Improve existing information technology and telecommunications products, processes and services.
  • Create an awareness of new technology and where applicable, attain intellectual property rights.
  • Analyse and automate paper-based business processes in order to achieve increases in productivity and reductions in costs.

(AusIMM 2013, DEEWR 2013, Engineers Australia 2013, IBISWorld 2012, IET 2013).
Mechanical engineers are those engineering professionals who plan, design, install, operate and maintain mechanical machines and systems that may include cranes, weigh bridges, lifts, conveyors, air conditioning plants, production plants, ventilation systems, lathes, hoppers, pipelines and wind turbines, and manufacturing systems. (DEEWR 2013).

Work Experience


Applicants shall have a minimum of five years’ work experience, as a mechanical engineer, in areas such as:
  • Plan, design and supervise the manufacture and installation of cranes, weighbridges, lifts, conveyors, air conditioning plants, production plants, robotics, ventilation systems, lathes, hoppers, pipelines and wind turbines.
  • Maintenance management of existing mechanical plant and equipment.
  • Interpret and apply relevant Australian legislation, Australian Standards and International Standards during the design of mechanical systems.
  • Participate in detailed engineering design involving application of theory, mathematical calculations, writing of specifications and drafting of mechanical drawings specific to mechanical components, machinery and plant.
  • Perform computer-simulated modelling and analyse resultant data on reaction of key mechanical systems subjected to loads and natural forces.
  • Adhere to applicable mechanical engineering processes and practices to ensure realisation of products and services.
  • Evaluate mechanical design solutions against the requirements of original specifications.
  • Supervise para-professionals, technicians and mechanical tradespeople during the manufacture and installation of mechanical systems.
  • Assess the condition of existing mechanical machinery and write reports highlighting recommendations on safety, maintenance, remaining life expectancy and replacement.
  • Write plans, standards, procedures, work instructions and forms.
  • Review and propose amendments to relevant Australian legislation, Australian Standards and International Standards.
  • Investigate and document the causes of mechanical failure, and provide subsequent recommendations on how to eliminate future occurrences of failure.
  • Specify, evaluate and purchase engineering products and services.
  • Improve existing engineering products, processes and services.
  • Create an awareness of new mechanical technology and where applicable, attain intellectual property rights.
  • Liaise with civil, structural and electrical engineers to ensure optimum integration of mechanical systems with other services.

(AusIMM 2013, DEEWR 2013, Engineers Australia 2013, IBISWorld 2012, IET 2013).
Structural engineers undertake the activities of design, installation, test and maintenance of the framework used in buildings, bridges, towers, cranes, tunnels, sound shells, and various plant (DEEWR 2013).

Work Experience


Applicants shall have a minimum of five years’ work experience, as a structural engineer, in areas such as:
  • Plan, design and supervise the construction of structural framework for buildings, bridges, tunnels or railways.
  • Plan, design, manufacture and test the structural framework of motor vehicles, ships and aircraft.
  • Design and maintain mobile and fixed cranes.
  • Interpret and apply relevant Australian legislation, Australian Standards and International Standards during the design of structures.
  • Participate in detailed engineering design involving application of theory, mathematical calculations, writing of specifications and drafting of structural drawings specific to major civil infrastructure.
  • Adhere to applicable structural engineering processes and practices to ensure realisation of products and services.
  • Evaluate structural design solutions against the requirements of original specifications.
  • Maintenance management of existing framework used by bridges, jetties, cranes, storage tanks and towers.
  • Perform computer-simulated modelling and analyse resultant data on reaction of key structural systems subjected to loads and natural forces.
  • Supervise para-professionals, technicians and construction workers during the fabrication and installation of structural systems.
  • Assess the condition of existing structures and write reports highlighting recommendations on safety, maintenance, remaining life expectancy and replacement.
  • Write plans, standards, procedures, work instructions and forms.
  • Review and propose amendments to relevant Australian legislation, Australian Standards and International Standards.
  • Investigate and document the causes of major structural failure, and provide subsequent recommendations on how to eliminate future occurrences of failure.
  • Specify, evaluate and purchase engineering products and services.
  • Improve existing engineering products, processes and services.
  • Create an awareness of new structural technology and where applicable, attain intellectual property rights.
  • Liaise with civil, mechanical and electrical engineers to ensure optimum integration of structural systems with other services

(AusIMM 2013, DEEWR 2013, Engineers Australia 2013, IBISWorld 2012, IET 2013).
If you have any questions about the new disciplines please contact the Registrar on 1300 273 762 or rpeng@professionalsaustralia.org.au
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