Senior Engineer, De-Icing
Who do you work for?
Where is your job based?
What does your job involve?
Wind turbines in cold climates can get a lot of ice build-up on the blades, and when that happens they have to be temporarily shut down. I am in charge of designing a system to heat the blades and keep them ice-free.
Why did you choose to work in this sector?
I am very concerned about climate change and with my background in composite materials and aerodynamics I felt that wind energy was a great way I could contribute to practical solutions.
What is the most rewarding part of your current job?
At LM Wind Power we have really great testing and manufacturing facilities. I can have an idea one day and be testing it out by the end of the week. I am still working on my first project there, but I am really looking forward to later this year when turbines with technology I helped develop start generating electricity.
What has been one of your recent achievements?
A customer requested a technology from us that didn’t yet exist, that they wanted available within a very short time. Together with my team I was able to design a new concept and demonstrate its feasibility, all within a few months.
What is the most challenging part of your current job?
Large scale manufacturing means very rigid deadlines, which can be extremely challenging for new technology projects.
What do you hope to do in the future?
At least in the medium term, I would like to stay in the renewable energy sector, and I would like to continue to design new technology. Other than that, I try to stay as open minded about the future as possible, so I can grab interesting opportunities as they come up.
What are some of the benefits of your job?
There are so many interesting projects happening at LM Wind Power, I learn a lot just by looking around at what’s going on in the workshop, or chatting to colleagues at lunch. I also do quite a lot of travelling all over the world to manufacturing facilities, site visits and conferences which I like.
What training did you have for this job?
I went to Erindale College for year 11 and 12, a public school in Canberra. I did a double major in Advanced maths extended, a major minor in physics and a major in chemistry. Then I did a bachelor of Arts with a philosophy major and a bachelor of systems engineering (honours), with a materials and mechanical systems major, at Australian National University. After 6 years of work experience I went back to university and got a PhD in mechanical engineering (composite materials design and analysis), from the University of New South Wales
Why is mathematics important in your job?
I do a lot of quick structural calculations, and heat transfer calculations, to make sure the ideas that we test are likely to work. It is also important that I can understand the more detailed calculations that my colleagues do, so I am aware of how that affects the design possibilities.
How do you use digital technologies in your job?
I use a lot of computer simulations to estimate performance and structural safety before manufacturing something. This saves a lot of time and expense, because you can find out early which ideas won’t work. I also work on an international team, with colleagues and clients all over Europe, plus America and India, so we collaborate a lot online.
What career advice would you give to school students interested in a similar career?
Do as much maths and physics as you can, plus gain as much hands on experience as you can outside of school. I was really into bikes and sewing in high school, and these both helped me develop really useful skills for engineering. Creativity is also very important for a design engineer, so any creative hobbies like art, reading or music are helpful.