The spirit of SMEC

THE SNOWY Mountains Engineering Corporation, or SMEC, has gone through many incarnations in its 40 year life. At one stage it was a complete government agency with perhaps 760 employees - which is still pretty big.

But that is dwarfed by its current state, as a private organisation with 5,000 staff with 70 offices in 40 countries across Asia, the Middle East, African, and north and south America.

And it's still in Australia, of course, in its renowned Cooma office.

But all these facts and figures are a bit academic, even esoteric, unless they are put into context.

And of all its major infrastructure projects around the world, few have been so eagerly awaited by past and current staff than the history of the organisation as told in the massive tome, The Spirit of SMEC.

The book has had two launches - one in Parliament House by the Minister for Regional Development Simon Crean, and the other in front of an invited audience of largely former employees in Cooma (who were offered a discounted price of $55 per book).

While acknowledging the crucial role played by engineers, author Ron Ringer said writing the book had itself had taken on the characteristics of an engineering project.

It had required a methodical approach over three years to produce his vast institutional history of SMEC.

The organisation had its origins back in the days of the building of the Snowy Scheme. For more than 40 years it has delivered thousands of transport, civil, hydropower, water and environment projects in over 80 countries.

It is ranked amongst the world's top engineering design firms.

The new book outlines SMEC's history, its people, its leaders and its projects, with hundreds of photographs to illustrate the progress along the way as it helped build Australia.

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