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Strong foundations

10 April 2017
Strengthening civil engineering

Lawrence and Betty Browne's gift acknowledges that, for any important structure, first you must build the builder.

He was the third son of a coalminer, but these humble beginnings didn’t stop Lawrence Roy Browne (BE (Civil) ’46) from gaining a civil engineering degree and forging a career of great achievement and wide respect.

Lawrence always acknowledged the importance of the scholarship that allowed him to go to university. He wanted to provide that same opportunity for other aspiring civil engineers who might not have the resources to pursue their ambitions.  

In 2011 a gift from Lawrence and his wife, Betty, helped establish the Lawrence & Betty Browne PhD Research Scholarship in Civil Engineering.

It was this gift that allowed Cong Loc Ha (ME (Civil) ’12) to take his structural engineering studies further by undertaking a PhD.

Loc’s father and grandfather were both structural engineers, but it was about more than following in their footsteps. “I enjoy knowing how things are built from scratch,” he says. “I’m also interested in how everyday structures can be made safer.”

His engineering studies immersed him in all the concepts that fascinated him: physical laws of construction; structural performance of materials and geometries; how structural integrity affects function and safety.

“Studying at the University of Sydney gave me a chance to work with top researchers in the engineering field,” Loc says.

After completing his master’s degree, he was awarded the Lawrence & Betty Browne PhD Research Scholarship in Civil Engineering which allowed him to go on and complete a PhD.

Studying at the University of Sydney gave me a chance to work with top researchers in the engineering field.
Cong Loc Ha (ME (Civil) '12)

In his thesis, Loc created a fresh perspective on how to evaluate existing buildings. His reliability method reduces the usual reliance on subjective opinion and allows assessors to have clear reference points for improving building management.

Having the scholarship meant Loc was under less pressure to take on paid work, so he could study more and develop his thesis ideas.

Loc now works as a structural engineer at an engineering consultancy, and his scholarship is still part of who he is today.

“I am very thankful for receiving that thoughtful gift,” he says. “The generosity has inspired me to help others and give back to the community.”

A bequest that makes even more possible

The Lawrence & Betty Browne PhD Research Scholarship in Civil Engineering started as a gift, but with the passing of Betty Browne in 2015 came a generous bequest . It will continue to fulfil the couple’s wish of awarding scholarships on the basis of financial need as well as academic merit.

Discover more ways our donors are making a difference