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By the bubbler with Zhiguo Yuan AM

Already one of Australia’s most esteemed engineers, Professor Zhiguo Yuan, Director of the University of Queensland’s Advanced Water Management Centre, has been appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia for significant service to science through urban water management, and to higher education.

What drew you to the water industry?

When I graduated with a PhD in aeronautical engineering (control) in 1992, I felt I was ready to apply my skills in mathematical modelling and process control. I picked up wastewater treatment due to its importance to humanity, and the need for modellers by the discipline at the time. I quickly fell in love with my chosen area of research, and established my career in this area. Today, my research covers many aspects of urban water management, way beyond modelling and control.

Who or what do you draw inspiration from?

From the water industry. From the very beginning, I wanted to do practically-relevant research. Communication with industry people has been essential for me to ensure my research solves the right problems and that my research outcomes influence the industry.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I do not have much spare time. When I do get some time to relax, I would choose reading books or watching documentaries, particularly those related to the universe and history.

If you were a breed of dog, which would you be and why?

I am not sure, as I am not familiar with dogs. I did a quick online test, and the system reported back “Scottie” with the following comment, which I liked.

“You are smart, sophisticated, and high class. You would rather sit back and enjoy a nice espresso and read a good book. You value making the most of your life and you know the exact people you want to have by your side. People view you as a leader because you're calm, cool and always well put together. Just look at your fresh haircut and combed fur! You are sharp.”

What do you believe is currently the greatest challenge for your part of the water industry?

In urban water management, the greatest challenge is the provision of sustainable (both economically and environmentally), reliable and high-quality water and wastewater services in the wake of climate change and continued growth of urban populations.

How does your organisation benefit from being a corporate member of the Australian Water Association?

AWA provides an excellent platform for communication between members. For an education and research institution such as The University of Queensland, the opportunities provided by AWA to meet and interact with industry members are highly valuable.

What messages would you like to give to your colleagues in the Queensland water sector?

Innovation and cooperation. The development and implementation of effective and innovative solutions require utilities, consultants and researchers to work together closely.

The QLD Source editorial committee is always thinking about how to better engage with our broader membership. Do you have a diverse background or experience you would like to share? Let us know if you'd like a chat by the bubbler.

This article was written for the February 2019 edition of Source QLD.