I work for Thiess, an international mining services provider, at the Brisbane Component Rebuild Centre. The Brisbane Component Rebuild Centre remanufacturers and refurbishes used mining equipment components from off-highway mining trucks, excavators, dozers and graders. My key areas of responsibility include undertaking failure analyses, and mechanical design of tooling and for the workshop.
I have been fortunate enough to carry out an internship, a university thesis, and ongoing part-time work here at the Brisbane rebuild workshop, and as such, my daily tasks have varied. My vacation placement involved analysing failure rates of large excavator cylinders. My thesis involved the design and manufacture of a custom automated mining truck brake testing system, and now working part-time I am in charge of creating custom tooling for the workshop, and analysing components to determine the root cause of failure. A standard day for me involves working on my computer using Autocad Inventor and Excel, with some time also spent on the workshop floor with the tradespeople and components.
The size of the components is what I find amazing. We have bearings and gears up to 500mm in diameter!
I spent most of my early life in Brisbane, QLD. I went to high school in Brisbane, where I undertook Physics, Math B, Math C, among other subjects. I knew from a fairly young age that I wanted to be an engineer, so I did subjects that would give me the best foundation for university. I then got accepted into QUT for a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering. I worked at a metal fabrication business at the end of my second year and founded a car club at university. These two factors helped me score an internship with BMW, where I lived in Munich, Germany for 6 months. I worked at the research and innovation centre, in the aerodynamics department. This was a fantastic opportunity and I believe helped me greatly in getting my current job.
I applied for a vacation position with Thiess in my penultimate year of university, through an online application. After a few rounds of psychometric testing and a video interview, I had a face to face interview. I then started with the company in November 2016.
Although you would require an engineering degree, someone with completely different life experience could do my job. This is evident with the different backgrounds of the engineers in the office- we are from all different cities and countries, and are all different people. I believe that’s what makes a good team. Relevant skills required for my job:
Analytical thinking. Most problems are not as simple as they seem, and you really need to be able to analyse the problem at hand and come up with innovative and well thought out solutions.
Mechanical aptitude. In order to accurately analyse root causes of failure, you need to have a good understanding of mechanical systems. Having a desire to understand how things work is crucial.
Computer skills. As with many jobs in this era, computer skills are fairly important. You need to be proficient in Word, Excel, and 3D modelling (Inventor, Solidworks, etc). Low-level programming has also been handy, having used VBA and C+ to make small programs.
The thing I love most about my job is getting the opportunity to work in a core mechanical engineering environment; with gears, bearings, clutches, and shafts. I enjoy the challenge of trying to understand how a component operates and then determining what caused it to fail in operation.
The coolest thing about working for Thiess as a whole is career opportunities. Now that I have been accepted into the 2018 graduate program, I will be moving around the business and gaining experience in many different roles and locations. Given that Thiess operates in five different countries around the globe, I also look forward to my future beyond the grad program and what opportunities are available to me.
Depending on the kind of person you are, the biggest limitation of working for a mining company would be the job location. Although I am currently living and working in Brisbane, I may have to spend some of my careers out at a mine site; either around Australia or overseas. Whilst I see this as an opportunity and a new experience, some people may not be comfortable moving to this kind of locations. I guess it comes down to your personal wants and desires.