RICHARD OLIVETo study modern developments in the utilisation of water resources, more particularly in relation to construction methods, management techniques and control procedures - USA
Richard joined the Hydroelectric Commission immediately after graduating in Civil Engineering from the University of Melbourne in 1964. The organisation gave him amazing opportunities and mentorship, including important roles on both the Mersey-Forth and Gordon schemes. In 1972 he was working in the Design Division in Hobart, when he was awarded one of the early Churchill Fellowships.
The Fellowship took Richard to the United States Bureau of Reclamation, a federal government agency, in Denver CO. The USBR, which was the model for the Snowy Mountains Authority, had built its reputation on some of the great and famous American dams, Hoover and Grand Coulee among them. It was recognised at the time as the master of the art of dam and hydro design and construction. A strong historical rapport existed between the USBR and the Hydro, so Richard was made immediately welcome and in fact co-opted into a USBR design team as a full-fledged member, rather than as a foreign trainee.
He discovered that the USBR was indeed a highly competent organisation, but, just as importantly if not more so, he saw that technology transfer was a two-way street, with the Hydro having as much to offer as to take. Odd as it may seem, he has often said that this discovery – a realisation that Tasmanian engineering really ranked highly in international esteem and competence – was his major learning. It certainly gave him great confidence in pursuing his career around the world.
FELLOWSHIP CONCLUSIONS & OUTCOMES
Richard had never travelled out of Australia before, but the Fellowship opened his eyes to the world. He continued consulting in the dams and hydro fields, and now has only recently retired after more than 100 international trips to every corner of the planet. He said ‘It has all become a bit blasé; my favourite trips now are my annual pilgrimages from home in Melbourne across Bass Strait, to watch my beloved Hawks at York Park.’