Job title

Graduate Mechanical Engineer

Who do you work for?

Technology & Innovation’s project management office in Brisbane; currently on International Assignment to the MDDK Project in Boron, California.

What does your job involve?

Planning and executing the commissioning phase of the project, including:

  • working with the engineering, procurement and construction management service provider to verify construction completion;
  • performing initial functionality checks on equipment; and
  • collectively starting up equipment and systems, bringing them into line with the existing plant.

Why did you choose to work in this sector?

I’ve always held an interest in maths and the sciences, so engineering was a natural choice to put those passions into practice. The mining sector and Rio Tinto in particular are well-represented in Australia, and they provide excellent opportunities for engineering problem-solving, practical field work, and travel.

What is the most rewarding part of your current job?

Overcoming day-to-day technical challenges is satisfying, but the greater reward will come at the end of the project: seeing the culmination of the engineering, construction and commissioning work, to deliver a functioning plant.

What has been one of your recent achievements?

Demonstrating—both analytically, and with the aid of computer modelling—that it would be safe and cost-effective to extend the service life of a particular asset, rather than rebuilding it from scratch.

What is the most challenging part of your current job?

To meet project schedules and budgets, there is often pressure to deliver on a deadline. Much of engineering is about optimisation: balancing quality work against time and money, and recognising when a solution is “good enough” without gold plating.

What do you hope to do in the future?

I’d like to develop my skills in project management, but if possible, without straying too far from the technical side. Rio Tinto’s reputation for innovation makes this a promising possibility.

What are some of the other benefits of your job?

I was fortunate enough to be offered a rotation to one of Rio Tinto’s coal mines in central Queensland, followed by two international assignments to copper/nickel and boron mines in the United States. These have afforded me the chance to work with new colleagues, in disparate climates, and on varied commodities.

What training did you have for this job?

Upper secondary school

Studied Maths B, Maths C, Physics and Chemistry (along with Biology and English)

After secondary school

Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical) from the Queensland University of Technology

Ongoing, on-the-job experience in office and field environments

What career advice would you give to school students interested in a similar career?

I’ve always been a proponent of “keeping your options open”, and seizing any opportunities that come by – that was the philosophy that led me to work overseas. To anyone who enjoys science and technology—particularly the practical aspects—I would strongly encourage a career in mining and engineering in general.

To find out more about how Rio Tinto supports classroom teaching and learning in maths, science and business studies for young people aged 12-16 visit SMART, our free international education portal. Using a combination of interactive whiteboard presentations, printable lesson plans, worksheets and case studies, students can explore how their academic studies relate to real-world operations in a major global business.