My name is Conor Gould and I’m a Graduate at ANSTO. I studied a Bachelor of Engineering (Software) at Griffith University. For my first rotation, I’m working in the Maintenance & Engineering division on a variety of projects covering robotics, automation, and project management.
I wake up at about 6 o’clock, leaving me just enough time to get ready for work. Breakfast is usually weet-bix and a banana (a naturally radioactive fruit!). After packing my bag and donning my ANSTO polo, I make a coffee and walk to the train station. I live in Wollongong, which is about 45 minutes’ drive to ANSTO’s Lucas Heights campus but I like to do my small part for the environment by taking public transport sometimes.
The train ride from Wollongong to Sutherland is an awesome way to start the day. With views out over the ocean, I get to see the morning sun and travel straight through the Royal National Park. It’s a great time to drink a coffee and read a book. Today I’m reading Nuclear 2.0 by Mark Lynas – it discusses how the next generation of nuclear power reactors could be the best way to avoid a climate disaster. I get to Sutherland station at about 7:50 AM and then wait for the ANSTO shuttle bus. On the bus, I run into a few other graduates and hear about their weekend.
When I get to the office, I start by reviewing my calendar and meeting my supervisor for an informal catch-up. We discuss how our projects are going and what we both have planned for the day. I then make a ‘to-do’ list and action any important emails. Looks like a safety advisor has suggested some changes to a risk assessment I drafted last week. I fix the issues and send it back for a final review.
Next, I meet my colleague who works at the solid low-level solid waste storage facility. For one of my projects, we’re exploring ways of using cameras to more easily inspect the condition of waste drums. When engineering a solution, there is an important focus on regularly meeting with the client and designing to their requirements. It’s also an opportunity to ask ANSTO staff about their interesting work and learn something new.
Back at the office, I reflect on my visit to the waste storage facility and document how the project requirements have changed. I then meet a colleague who has helped me by 3D printing a connection for the camera device we’re putting together. The connection fits nicely, so we should be ready to test the next prototype soon!
For lunch, I walk to the ANSTO café with a few of the other graduates. It’s great to catch up and hear about the different projects everyone is working on. I quickly eat a sandwich and head off because I want to fit in a game of social soccer on the oval. It’s such a fun way to break up the day and meet staff from different departments.
In the afternoon, I make my way across campus towards the Safety & Reliability building, where I’d like to get some advice from ANSTO’s Health Physics Surveyors. They’re responsible for radiation protection, so they’re experts on radiation monitoring equipment. One of my projects involves introducing a self-driving robot which can search for radioactive contamination on the ground. I ask my colleague if the radiation probes installed on the robot are approved by ANSTO.
In the afternoon, I get stuck into some safety documentation and risk assessments for the self-driving robot. It’s something pretty new for the organisation, so there are a lot of considerations when it comes to risk management. I also spend some time making a slideshow. Tomorrow, I’ll present a project update to the stakeholders involved in one of our projects, so I want to feel prepared.
My supervisor and I have arranged a video call with collaborators in Paris, France. We’re meeting the developers of a self-driving robot, so that we can ask some important questions based on what we learned from the Health Physics Surveyors today.
The meeting goes well and we receive detailed answers to our questions. We decide to call it a day and discuss next steps tomorrow morning over a coffee. I pack up, catch the ANSTO shuttle to Sutherland, and then train back to Wollongong. On the way home I like to zone out and just listen to music.
If it’s not too dark by the time I get home, I go for a walk along the beach with my girlfriend. Later on, we cook dinner together and share any funny or interesting stories from the day. After that, I watch some TV or catch up with family and friends over the phone. By about 10:30 PM, I’m exhausted and head to bed.