You Can Tell A Lot About An Engineer When They Tell You About Their Favourite Project

Written by: Adrian Magno

Tell me about your favourite project?

In a world where smart phones are turning small talk into a rarefied skill, I find this question is still one I like to pull out at the occasional consultant dinner or lunch that still seems to get and engaging response. A lot of hardcore audio guys love talking about the insanely expensive line arrays and acoustic echo modelling that went into building their favourite design; other people care deeply about what their systems are used for and get a rush from knowing the control center they built is possibly saving lives.

You can generally tell a lot about an engineer from the answer they give you.

For me, my favourite AV project is sitting amidst the walls on the second level of the NSW State Library.

Shrouded by all the other artworks and memorabilia is particularly special exposition under the silver words “The John B Fairfax Learning Centre.” Behind this frame is a hidden room, reserved only for young minds. Students walk up to the door and take turns at giving a password to the artwork, and the graphic moves to tells you if you’ve been granted access or not. (just like they used to back at Hogwarts and in Scooby Doo villain lairs)

 

I vividly remember days spent on presenting different options to the architect for the screen design, getting the finish to look just like a normal artwork, how we would ventilate the equipment etc. Hours of research were poured into calling all the different screen manufacturers; trying to make a screen as big as possible, with the highest resolution possible, whilst light enough to be in a door (and of course within budget)

What we ended up with was simple, a 98″ LCD (the largest single LCD size available at the time) within the door. So what made this one particularly special? Whilst the journey to how we got there was fascinating (my wife would beg to disagree) I suppose it’s the sense of wonder this design creates is the source of my affinity.

My daughter and I had a day in Sydney city recently, and I wanted to show her this room. Sadly it was a public holiday and all of my passwords were not quite the right passwords to grant us access to the secret room (chucking a Longbottom for those of you playing at home.) But really the fact that she ran passed the door and I had to stop her and say, “dad designed that,” means the design worked. I’ve never had aspirations to become a world class magician, but have always appreciated acts of misdirection and optical illusions. This was where I got to mix a bit of magic and engineering.

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