Khien Tran

Curtin University
Graduate Engineer
Khien studied a Bachelors in Civil and Construction (honours)

What's your job about?

I am currently on my first rotation which is in the asphalt production sector in Fulton Hogan. I am involved with the construction of the Polymer Modified Bitumen Plant. Daily activities are liaison with other engineers regarding structural considerations of the footings, slabs, and reinforcement. Then understanding the layout of the future plant, how the pumps work and how we can optimise the space to allow effective circulation of the bitumen through the piping network. A polymer modified bitumen plant is a sustainable plant which incorporates utilising rubber from recycled tyres and is then used as an additive into the bitumen which enhances the performance of the asphalt.

What's your background?

I grew up in Perth, Western Australia. I started at Curtin in 2009 however was studying Medical Science, after a year I realised that I didn’t see myself in this career for the future. During my university breaks I would work in residential construction and always watched concrete pours, reinforcements being tied down and always was curious as to how these structures came about, from there civil Engineering seemed to tick most of the boxes in my criteria.

Throughout my time at university I have made a many strong friendships that have taken me to where I am today, university has taught me how important it is to utilise team work to solve problems and to always encourage ideas and innovation.

It was when I was in my fourth year I attended a career fair, I walked around networking and asking different companies what they were looking for? What sort of role would I be involved in? I then came to the Fulton Hogan stand where I met a representative from Fulton Hogan; we had a long chat about the operations at Fulton Hogan. It was coincidental that I had conducted my research in asphalt and was very eager to join a company which specialised in this sector. He directed me to the graduate process and after perseverance my Career has begun with Fulton Hogan. Despite the tough economic times in Western Australia, being persistent and staying focused on securing a graduate position really helped me attain the career I have today.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

No because in this industry it is important to have the civil engineering knowledge which makes it easier to understand some methodologies of construction. Project management, which is particularly focused in civil and construction engineering, is fundamental. Projects are required to be delivered on time, within budget while also satisfying the client’s requests. Having civil knowledge, you are able to more accurately dictate how long projects will be complete based on the scope of works that is proposed as well as incorporating the knowledge and principles of the asphalt laying, production and testing. Communicational skills are also fundamental to ensure that client business relationships are kept at a high.

What's the coolest thing about your job?

Building the PMB plant is very interesting because it is my first major project, slowly seeing the progress of the work and how the plant operates is really rewarding. Since being in production I can now fully operate the front end loader and also have my VOC on it. I was flown to Port Hedland for 15 days to operate the loader for a major project.

What are the limitations of your job?

There will always be days at any work place that will be long and you will be fatigued, but again because your managing projects and you want to ensure they are completed within their time frame, so as a result it is good to have perseverance. Sometimes interactions between subcontractors can be difficult and it is essential that effective communication is evident to ensure both parties know exactly the scope of works.

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

Continually network and always attend career events, don’t be discouraged by rejection letters when you do apply. Be consistent and be proactive when applying for work. Be prepared to travel for work and really absorb and immerse yourself into different projects around the states, it really helps develop your CV. Make friends everywhere you go and develop strong relationships with all your colleagues.