What's your job about?
South32 is a globally diversified mining company. We mine and refine metals such as alumina, manganese, and silver. Here at Worsley, we focus on refining bauxite we receive from the mines into alumina which we ship out to our smelters.
As a Graduate Technology at Worsley, I’m part of the Control and Automations team who takes care of the control systems of the plant. We program and maintain automation of process control on site, from simple PID (Proportional, Integral, Derivative) loops to Sequence Control and MVCs (Multi Variable Controller), including the operator graphical interface.
What's your background?
I grew up in Bogor, Indonesia with my parents and three other siblings. Our dad’s humble beginnings and achievements in the petroleum industry have always inspired us to pursue a STEM career, and what led me to choose Chemical Engineering as a major. Of course, he was also encouraging when it comes to pursuing education overseas, so when my local university offered the partnership program with the University of Queensland, I was raring to go. With the program, I completed my first two years of university back home and my final two years in Brisbane.
Despite having chosen the major, I’ve always had a separate interest in technology and programming. During university, I was the go-to for Excel, Matlab and all other chemical engineering software amongst my peers. I took this interest further and enrolled in an introduction to programming course where I learned Python. When graduation came and I was applying for jobs, I saw South32 putting up an ad for Graduate Technology and I signed up straight away.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
Yes. In fact, the Control and Automations team would normally have a background in either control and instrumentation systems or electrical engineer, so I’m already a non-normal case! For the first few months, I ran purely with interest and willingness to learn. It helps that the program invests so much in their graduates and provided me with the necessary training and guidance for my role. The role does get very technical and also involves programming, so one should make sure they are aware and have some basic foundations for that, so they don’t get overwhelmed.
What's the coolest thing about your job?
I’m now in my second year of the graduate program and I’m loving how I can utilise both my interest in technology and my background in chemical engineering in my day to day! Being able to work on the underlying systems controlling the process is very interesting, and it gives me a different point of view compared to when I looked at it as a process engineer. Also, we work on live systems so if you turn off the pump on the screen, it will turn that pump off out at the field!
What are the limitations of your job?
The process control world encompasses a very large infrastructure of different hardware and software so it will take a considerably long time to be ‘an expert’. Furthermore, a typical career path for a process control engineer is fairly ‘Technical’. On the other side, if you’re like me and enjoy technical challenges this job is perfect!
3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...
Keep working hard, be brave and continue to pursue where your interest lies!