The kind and decisive one

The kind and decisive one

Based in Sydney, Maddy Johnson, Affil.AIRAH, is a graduate mechanical engineer at A.G. Coombs, working in the Projects team.


During my time in the industry, I have primarily worked on new-build design and construction projects in a range of different sectors. I have also spent time doing advisory work, where we focused on existing building energy optimisation and services upgrade proposals.

What are you passionate about? 

I’m passionate about design.

Good design is about balancing cost, efficiency, sustainability and innovation while maintaining system functionality, longevity, ease of installation, serviceability, health and safety standards, and code compliance.

I’m also passionate about trying to spread kindness. Even a small gesture can make the difference to someone’s day, especially in the workplace where it can, at times, be a high‑stress environment.

Outside of work, I love playing guitar and singing. Post-lockdown I have started doing volunteer performances at a nursing home, which allows me to combine these passions.

Are things back to normal, post-pandemic?

Even prior to COVID-19 there was a push in the industry towards improved ventilation and increasing indoor air quality in buildings. The pandemic really put a spotlight on this, and greater consideration in design will start to become the new normal.

What do you like about your job?

I really enjoy the fast-paced nature of the construction industry. Every day there’s a new challenge to undertake and a goal you are working towards.

I love that every day I am coming to work to help be a part of building something tangible. At the end of a job, it’s very satisfying to walk past a building and know that you’re part of its history.

“Even a small gesture can make the difference to someone’s day, especially in the workplace where it can, at times, be a high‑stress environment

What do you find challenging? 

Maintaining a good work-life balance can be tough, especially in construction where the hours can be long at times.

I am still working on getting the balance right, but one way I have actively been addressing this is considering the “non‑negotiable” things that are important to me and making sure I incorporate these into my schedule.

What trait do you most admire in others? 

I admire the ability to teach and impart knowledge to others. I have been fortunate enough to have been taught and mentored by some great  engineers over the years, for which I am very grateful. A good mentor can make a world
of difference to someone’s learning and development, and I hope to be able to pay that forward.

What would you most like to have that you do not have? 

I would love to own my own home. It’s a difficult thing to aspire to, especially for the younger generation given the current housing affordability crises in Australian cities, but it is my hope I will one day achieve this goal.

What are you optimistic about?

I believe that addressing climate change is one of the engineering challenges of our generation.

The HVAC industry is a significant contributor to this problem; however, it also means we have the opportunity to be change makers.

I am excited to be part of an industry that is driving innovation in the sustainability space, and it makes me optimistic for the future of our planet!

Ecolibrium Feb March cover

This article appears in ecolibrium’s February-March 2023 issue

Want to read more?


Click here to view our archive of issues and features.


Become an AIRAH member or subscribe to Ecolibrium.

In the hot seat

In the hot seat

City of Melbourne chief heat officer Krista Milne talks with Ecolibrium staff writer Nick Johns-Wickberg about managing extreme heat in urban settings.

The convention

The convention

Boasting 300 exhibitors and 9,000 visitors over three days in May, ARBS 2024 will be the gathering place for the Australian HVAC&R community.

Health Check

Health Check

In order to raise the standard of operational hospital buildings, a holistic approach must be taken, writes Cundall’s Amin Azarmi. When standards change there are two typical ways to respond. First, scramble to do the minimum required to comply. Or second, take the...

Open for Business

Open for Business

Building automation control products that can only be serviced by one contractor can present significant risk. Open protocols make much more sense, writes Jason Duncan.I am very fortunate to meet and work with contractors, building owners and managers from all around...

Computational fluid dynamics modelling of ventilation in road tunnels: enhancing air quality and safety

Computational fluid dynamics modelling of ventilation in road tunnels: enhancing air quality and safety

Ventilation units within vehicle tunnels play a pivotal role in ensuring safety and optimal air quality for
occupants. These units are used to assist with propelling air from one end to the opposite end of the tunnel.
Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) has emerged as an invaluable design tool for engineers and stakeholders,
offering simulated insights and data to optimise safety and efficiency in tunnel projects. This paper
emphasises the advantages of CFD for road tunnel ventilation design, showcases a case study involving
impulse fans, and highlights the positive effects on project costs and overall tunnel ventilation performance.

Vine intervention

Vine intervention

It’s like a jungle sometimes, but is the grass always greener for buildings that boast green walls and roofs? Laura Timberlake explores.