A sustainable future for our energy and water
Michael Boyle and Robin Craig hope that creating an engineering scholarship will set an example that others will follow, and lead to a sustainable solution to our food and water issues. Matthew Benns reports.
University of Sydney alumni Michael Boyle and Robin Craig describe themselves as optimists. The couple have made a major donation to the University to support the study of sustainable power generation and water supply, and hope it will cause a snowball effect.
“We are just hoping that if lots of people do what we do then somebody, somewhere will come up with something significant to change the world,” says Michael.
Their donation of $500,000 is being used to sponsor a PhD scholarship in engineering in perpetuity (continuing indefinitely). The primary focus of the scholarship is to explore engineering solutions to provide sustainable power generation and water supply.
“There is no turning back. You can’t suddenly take electricity off people, so we need to find a way to generate it in a more sustainable way,” explains Michael.
Michael and Robin met in 1988 while working on the Darling Harbour redevelopment project in Sydney. They travelled the world together, working in Britain, before returning to marry, start a family and launch an engineering company, Abergeldie.
Abergeldie has grown into a mid-tier civil engineering company specialising in complex infrastructure projects. Among its projects was the replacement of the University’s footbridge over City Road.
The company has always maintained a focus on giving something back to the community. “From the moment we began Abergeldie we set aside 0.1 percent of turnover to be given to charity,” Michael explains. “If you don’t make it a cost of business, you just don’t do it.”
Four years ago they set up a family Private Ancillary Fund – the Jaramas Foundation – using funds from a business transaction they wanted to give to charity. “We give five percent of the value every year,” explains Robin. “Initially we focused on refugees, but we have expanded our giving to include the environment and education.
“We decided on tertiary education and then on the University of Sydney because of our links there.” Michael acquired his engineering degree from the University, and Robin her social work degree.
They are hoping their donation will help in the search for environmentally sustainable solutions to the world’s energy and water issues. The Dean of Engineering, Professor Archie Johnston, says: “Their generosity will provide the support, in perpetuity, for research to make the breakthroughs that change the way our society lives.”