A Quick Tour of My Life
Civil Engineering appealed to a young Kevin McCue as a useful discipline in 1963 after the first year of an undergraduate degree majoring in Physics and Maths at the ANU but after investigating the possibility with Melbourne Uni and an interview with the then Director of Engineering at the Commonwealth Department of Works in Melbourne, Charles Bubb, Kevin decided to stay at the ANU. When Boeing laid off some two thousand aerospace physicists in 1968 as Kevin was graduating from the ANU in that field, his focus shifted to the earth sciences leading to two years with the Bureau of Mineral Resources; at Mundaring Geophysical Observatory WA (leaving Perth for Canberra 4 days before the Meckering earthquake), on the ANARE Antarctic base on Macquarie Island and a few months on return back at Canberra.
A short stint in exploration geophysics followed with a venture company looking for copper and gold in northern Scotland in 1970 before the lure of more study and a position as research assistant took him to Imperial College London under the charismatic guidance of Professor Nick Ambraseys, Head of the Engineering Seismology Section of the Civil Engineering Department at Imperial College. Nick was named one of the 13 legends of Earthquake Engineering in 2008. The DIC course included engineering seismology, soil mechanics, rock mechanics, structural dynamics and dam design. With other group members, Kevin participated in various consultancies in earthquake hazard analysis, and monitoring ground motion during the demolition of large hyperbolic cooling towers at old coal fired power stations in the UK. Kevin completed the DIC and MPhil in 1974 on the topic of earthquake hazard in Western Australia with the support of CommWorks and the WA Public Works Department thanks to Charles Bubb. Kevin returned to Australia in 1976 to a research assistant position in the Physics Department at Adelaide University funded by an insurance industry grant to investigate earthquake hazard in South Australia, NSW and Victoria. These hazard studies were incorporated into AS1170.4 -1979, with Kevin on the Standards Australia code committee.
Earthquake hazard and strong motion study took Kevin to Papua New Guinea in 1979, firstly at the Port Moresby Geophysical Observatory for 4 years and then with Bougainville Copper Pty Ltd for 2 years, monitoring earthquakes, active volcanoes, measuring tsunamis and undertaking consultancies in earthquake hazard.
A year before the civil war broke out in Bougainville, Kevin accepted a research scientist position back at BMR Canberra in 1985 to lead the government's earthquake hazard and earthquake monitoring program. Outputs included two updates of the earthquake hazard map of Australia for AS1170.4 -1993 and its successor AS1170.4 -2008, many papers on Australian earthquakes, post-disaster field investigations at Newcastle in 1989 and PNG in 1998, establishment of strong motion monitoring and paleo-seismology programs and investigation of historical earthquakes. He and Charles Bubb founded the Australian Earthquake Engineering Society of IEAust in 1990, shortly after the Newcastle earthquake and affiliated it with the IAEE. His contribution to the loading codes led to the Institution of Engineers, Australia making him a Fellow of IEAust.
It was during this time that Kevin took on a role with Central Queensland University to help write the undergraduate curriculum and assist with establishment of an earthquake monitoring program in central Queensland, site of the largest known and damaging Queensland earthquake of 1918. Ongoing roles mentoring and supervising post graduate students, running a Rockhampton microzonation mapping program led to the offer of an honorary Professorship which has continued as an Adjunct Professor with the Faculty of Business and Informatics and a member of the Central Queensland Seismic Research Group led by Mike Turnbull.
In 2001, Kevin established a consulting company, the Australian Seismological Centre restoring earthquake monitoring of dams in the ACT and Snowy Mountains. He has maintained a position on the executive of AEES since its establishment and was made a life member in 2007 before taking on the President's role in 2008.