Electronics engineer

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Brett, 26

Score one for humans over machines. Brett oversees the manufacture of scientific instruments that require so much precision they have to be assembled by hand. Find out more:

> Fact file
> Profile
> Job specs
> Getting started

Fact file

Job description: Manages 26 staff who make precision scientific equipment; ensures that all the necessary parts and equipment are available and operating, that staff are happy, and that production targets are met.

Subjects studied: Physics, Information Processing and Management, Mathematics (Change and Approximation), Mathematics (Space and Numbers) and English.

Further training: Brett has an Engineering Degree in Electronics and Computing from Monash University (4 years); and he has completed several short courses at the Australian Institute of Management including 'Leading the Workgroup', 'Assertiveness Techniques' and 'Effective Negotiation Skills'.

Salary: $45,000-$50,000 a year.

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Profile

Australia is a world leader in developing, designing and building scientific instruments. And Brett is one of the people making it happen.

He is a production manager with Shimadzu, a company that manufactures instruments, such as gas chromatographs, UV spectrophotometers and atomic absorption spectrometers, all of which are used to determine the chemical composition of materials.

Absolute precision is required in making these machines. And that means, perhaps surprisingly, that all assembly is done by hand.

"Robot assembly just can't allow for variations in the parts used. It's not like putting together a car, where it doesn't matter if one of the panels is a little bit out. Everything has to be exactly in the right position and the only way to do that is by hand, constantly testing as you go."

People versus computers

When he finished his Bachelor of Engineering in Electronics and Computing at Monash University, Brett expected he would spend his life working with computers.

Immediately after leaving university he was employed by Shimadzu as a Production Engineer. Brett took on this role with the intention of finding another more technical job as quickly as possible. "I soon found I was better at dealing with people than computers. I enjoyed it more too, which is probably why I was better at it."
Since that realisation and a change of direction he now provides leadership and support for 26 staff. He is responsible for making sure that all the necessary parts and equipment are available and working, that the staff are happy and productive and that production targets are met.

Keeping your options open

When Brett was at school he had no idea of what he wanted to do, so he chose subjects, which kept his options open. Even at university he was unsure as to where he would end up, so he chose a course that would allow flexibility in the choice of career.

Brett thinks that this is a good strategy for most students. "My advice is to keep your mind open to new possibilities and not limit yourself to a narrow range of jobs or careers. New opportunities will arise as your career develops, and there will be options available that you've never heard of."

After realising he enjoyed working with people more than computers Brett set about developing his management skills by taking short courses at the Australian Institute of Management. With these under his belt, he was offered the production leader position at Shimadzu.

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Job specs

Electronics engineers design, develop, test and maintain electronic parts and systems used in computers, communications, navigation, industry and entertainment.

Duties

Electronics engineers may perform the following tasks: 

  • Design circuits for electronic control systems and instrumentation
  • Prepare and supervise designs, specifications, estimates, tenders and contracts
  • Program and operate computers to assist with complex calculations
  • Work out the type and arrangement of circuit parts and develop testing equipment and methods
  • Work out the type of installation, location, layout and transmission medium by assessing communication traffic and levels of service at installations
  • Work out and monitor performance, safety standards and methods for modification, maintenance and repair
  • Check installations to make sure they meet contract conditions
  • Research new applications of technology
  • Talk to clients, other engineers, technical officers, technicians, tradespeople and other workers

Personal requirements

  • Good at technical activities
  • Good leadership skills 
  • Able to identify, analyse and solve problems 
  • Good oral and written communication skills 
  • Enjoy computing and technical design 
  • Practical and creative 
  • Able to work independently 
  • Able to accept responsibility

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Getting started

Find out more about a career in electronics engineering:

Engineers Australia (Victoria Division)
21 Bedford St North Melbourne, VIC 3051
Tel: (03) 9329 8188

Find out more about this career path at myfuture.edu.au (new window) (Note: free registration is required to access the myfuture site).

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