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Queensland University of Technology
Undergraduate Mechanical Engineer, Thiess
Courtney Bolton studied a Bachelor of Mechanical and Medical Engineering at the Queensland University of Technology, graduating by the end of 2019 and is now an Undergraduate Mechanical Engineer at Thiess.
What's your job about?
Thiess is the world’s largest mining services provider delivering expertise and services from fully resourced end-to-end solutions to targeted services that support clients’ in-house teams. I currently work with the Asset Operations team in Brisbane, Australia. My role is to support our projects with effective planning and the execution of preventative asset maintenance. I also work on projects that aim to improve current processes with a focus on efficiency, accuracy and reliability.
A typical day involves reviewing and actioning preventative maintenance change requests from our projects. My role is to review the request, ensuring it does not compromise safety and aligns with regulations and standards. I’m then required to process the change. I also work on special projects that I have been tasked with, for example, I recently worked on developing a new management procedure for an asset component group. My day also consists of discussions with my team where we discuss and help to solve a problem that a teammate has encountered.
What's your background?
I grew up and attended school in Logan, Queensland. I was someone who enjoyed school as I loved to learn and had a keen interest in STEM subjects. I found maths, physics, chemistry and biology to be rewarding and insightful, though sometimes challenging. In Year 11, I was given the opportunity to attend the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) STEM Camp. It was an experience that I thoroughly enjoyed and it also helped me decide what I wanted to do after high school.
In my second year at university, I joined QUT’s Mechanical Engineering Student Society as a general executive where I quickly became the secretary and later acquired a position in an oil and gas company’s 2016/17 Vacation Program. It provided me with valuable experience that I know has helped me to where I am today. I also decided that the oil and gas sector wasn’t for me.
The following year, I applied for and was offered a position in Thiess’ 2017/18 vacation program, working in Brisbane. It was another experience that helped me grow as an engineer and I valued the time spent here. Halfway through 2018, I got an out-of-the-blue call asking if I’d be interested in coming back to Thiess to work part-time during my studies and full-time through the holidays. I’ve been working here ever since and still love it. I can’t wait to transfer into their 2020 graduate program.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
Of course! Obviously, you’re going to need to be knowledgeable and certified in areas such as planning and engineering but are not limited outside experience and education. The members in my team, for instance, include people who were fitters, worked in agriculture or management, or come from a different country, you name it. I believe that it’s this diversity with experience and backgrounds that enables my team to work effectively and provide the best solution to a problem. You also need to ensure you’re someone who is thorough in your work and makes sure that all information is correct (eg aligns with procedures and regulations).
What's the coolest thing about your job?
There are two things I love about my job, first one is that I feel like I’m working in a ‘family’. That sounds funny to some, but I enjoy coming here every day. The people who make up Thiess are so welcoming and friendly that it’s a joy. The second thing I love are the opportunities of going to site and workshops where you get up close and personal with the machines. I recently flew to Newcastle to inspect new drills and had a blast understanding the asset. I learnt a lot from the team member I travelled with as he had 20+ years of industry experience to share.
What are the limitations of your job?
Machinery knowledge and understanding is a limitation within my field of work. We focus on the effective preventative maintenance of the assets which can lead to inaccuracies when not comprehended correctly. Each team member has the responsibility to ensure the machine’s preventative maintenance is in line with regulations and guidelines. Safety is one of Thiess’ leading principles and underpins all operations.
Not knowing and understanding the machinery is a big limitation in my team. We focus on the effective preventative maintenance of the assets and if you don’t understand how the machine works, it can lead to inaccuracy. That’s when you can rely on the team to help you understand.
Each member of the team also has the responsibility of ensuring that the machine’s preventative maintenance is in line with regulations and guidelines. They also need to make sure it is safe for those who work within the machine’s proximity. Safety is one of Thiess’ principles. It underpins everything that they do.
3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...
- Be eager to learn and ask plenty of questions. You are surrounded by people who are willing to help you grow as an engineer. There is no such thing as a silly question.
- Overcome the fear of failure and learn from every mistake. You don’t learn if you don’t make mistakes – they will help you to grow.
- Network. Network. Network. This can help you in more ways than you think.