By Gareth Vaughan

The impact of the COVID-19 crisis has shown people "what this crazy woman has been talking about," Susan Krumdieck says. The crazy woman she's referring to, jokingly I think, is Krumdieck herself.

Krumdieck is Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Canterbury. She has a particular focus on transition engineering. What's transition engineering? Broadly speaking it's the engineering of change.

"Instead of just asking 'how do we' all the time and there being a gap between what we're doing full blast, and what we know we should do and we could do, and we need to do, how do we [change]?"

"That big gap has to be filled by engineering work. You can't change the systems that need to be changed without the engineers who built them changing them," Krumdieck says.

"It has to be done in the context of the science, the business and the policies. We're really busy chomping up the planet and you couldn't do that without the engineers. The transition is about changing what we are doing to gift our kids a future."

"So bottom trawlers, 2120, are we still doing that? Are we still trawling up the last little scraps off the bottom of the ocean? No. Why not? Because the engineers don't build bottom trawlers anymore, that's why," says Krumdieck.

Asked what she was thinking as COVID-19 swept the world Krumdieck says; "now the rest of the world knows what this crazy woman has been talking about."

"Because the effect of changing the things we're doing, even if we know we need to change, that effect, it's a step. It's like just stop and then we'll figure out what we're going to do next."

"During this time we have discovered that there's a different world than what we knew about before. And that the whole assumptions that everything we were doing are based on can be questioned now," says Krumdieck.