Science and Engineering a university for the real world

Controlling 'power' in a man's world

14th January 2020

When it comes to power, few women know more about it than QUT Adjunct Professor Else Shepherd. One of the few Australian women in 1965 to graduate university with an electrical engineering degree, Professor Shepherd forged an impressive career that placed her at the top of Queensland’s power industry.

In its centenary publication - Anything is Possible: 100 Australian Engineering Leaders - peak industry body Engineers Australia recognised Professor Shepherd’s achievements as an educator, entrepreneur and leader of the country’s 1700km power transmission network for almost two decades.

Read: Entering a Man’s World (republished with permission)

Professors Else Shepherd, Mahinda Vilathgamuwa and Gerard Ledwich.
Else Shepherd is currently Adjunct Professor and CEO in Residence in the Science and Engineering Faculty at QUT. Pictured with power engineering colleagues Professors Mahinda Vilathgamuwa and Gerard Ledwich at the Microgrid facility, QUT Gardens Point campus.

Professor Shepherd started her career in Mackay as a sugar industry process control engineer before teaching at the Queensland Institute of Technology (now QUT).

She co-founded two companies, one specialising in research and development of innovative communications and another making microwave filters from novel materials.

In 1994, Professor Shepherd became the first Chair of Powerlink overseeing Queensland’s 1700km electricity network, driving early adoption of new technology and practices.

She held a range of directorships of engineering companies and also sat on the boards of the National Electricity Market Management Company, Brisbane City Works Advisory and the International Electrotechnical Commission Council.

In 2000, Engineers Australia named Professor Shepherd one of Australia’s top 100 most influential engineers.

In 2007, she received its Peter Nicol Russell Medal – the most prestigious award conferred by Engineers Australia, awarded to those who have made a notable contribution to the science and/or practice of engineering in Australia.

Professor Shepherd is currently Adjunct Professor with QUT and CEO in Residence in the Science and Engineering Faculty where she provides insights to address barriers to industry-university partnerships and helps build research collaborations with a focus on power and defence.

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