Senior project engineer

Share

Andrew, 30

Andrew works as a Senior Project Engineer for Holden. He is part of the team responsible for the design of new makes and models and holds the secret to what we'll be driving in the future. Find out more:

> Fact file
> Profile
> Job specs
> Getting started

Fact file

Job description: Andrew leads a team that is engineering the front of future vehicles for Holden. He is currently working on ways to make the 2006 Commodore safer, more exciting and a better quality than ever before.

Subjects studied: Maths (Reasoning and Data), Maths (Change and Approximation), English, Physics, Physical Education, Maths (Space and Numbers, year 11), Chemistry (year 11)

Further training: Bachelor of Engineering (Manufacturing Systems) - 4 Years

back to top of page

Profile

Andrew is a man on a mission: "There are a lot of misconceptions about the manufacturing industry," he says. "A lot of people still think it is just standing on a factory floor pushing red buttons. But it is a great industry with so many different options and the opportunity to earn good money."

In Years 9 and 10, Andrew had no idea what career he wanted to pursue so he decided to investigate which industries offered the best chance for employment and opportunities. His investigation led him to engineering. "I was inspired by the huge range of jobs and opportunities. Although I was average at maths and physics, I saw that there were lots of interesting jobs in manufacturing engineering."

Andrew still admits that he doesn't really like maths and physics too much, he says that if you do the hard work to get through university you will find that you don't use them every day ? these skills will prop you up and are an essential base. But Andrew says that it is the problem solving and people skills you will use the most: "Manufacturing engineering gives you a much broader focus than the other engineering disciplines. My course also covered materials, robotics and even some business management elements."

Andrew also applauds the idea of the co-op year, a year you take off studies to work in the industry. Andrew worked at Ford during his co-op year, which helped him decide he wanted to work in the automotive industry, and was offered full time employment once he completed his degree. After four years with Ford, he took up his current position with Holden.

Because he is a key member of the design team for future vehicles, Andrew usually starts with nothing. He and his team then develop what is required for the car, trying to develop the best part they can for the customer, while ensuring it is economical to produce, strong and of high quality. He works with a team including CAD (Computer Aided Design) experts, test engineers, materials engineers, manufacturing engineers and suppliers.

Andrew's role is to control all inputs, decide which direction to go in and pull it all together. Most of his time is spent communicating with other members of the design team. When he's not in meetings, he works on the design, costs or any other details related to the project. He also stays in contact with his counterparts in Germany, Spain and the USA, who help develop components. In fact, every year he spends a lot of time travelling, whether to the manufacturing plant in Adelaide or overseas to Japan, Germany, Spain and the USA. In fact, one of the highlights of his job is working on technology that has not been seen in the Australian car market before.

Andrew also likes the fact that the cars are always changing so there is always something new or different to develop or work on. He says, "there are always new materials or new electronics and we are always aiming for better quality. My challenge is to make a better car without increasing mass or cost." So is there anything Andrew doesn't like about his job? "Yes. I'm designing a family car not a Ferrari. I'd love to do a million dollar car where there is no limit on what I can spend or do. Other than that, there's nothing I don't like."

After working on the design for over 4 years, Andrew is looking forward to seeing the car he's currently developing on the road. He is also interested in working in a different area of Holden. "The good thing with engineering is that it gives you really broad skills which transfer well. I can either work on different components, transfer overseas or move into other non-engineering areas of the company." And in ten years time, Andrew will "probably have done an MBA and be working in senior management."

That's unless Ferrari come calling.

back to top of page

Job specs

Industrial engineers plan, organise, supervise and manage the operations of industries to make sure of economical, safe and effective use of materials, energy and people.

Duties:

An industrial engineer may perform the following tasks:

  • assess the techniques and equipment used in production processes to see if they can operate more efficiently
  • plan and design systems that increase productivity by improving integration of people, materials, equipment and finance
  • choose and develop more efficient and safe manufacturing processes using new, existing or modified machinery and equipment
  • introduce or recommend changes to work methods, safety measures and labour organisation
  • work out the time taken to perform a task or to complete a particular production stage and set performance standards
  • analyse and recommend changes to the workplace to maximise worker comfort by improving light, altering bench space or machine height and reducing noise.

Personal requirements:

  • enjoy technical and engineering work
  • good oral and written communication skills
  • practical and creative
  • technical aptitude
  • able to work without supervision
  • able to accept responsibility.

back to top of page

Getting started

Find out more about a career as a senior project engineer:

Institute of Industrial Engineers (National Office)
PO Box E303 Kingston, ACT 2604
Tel: (02) 6270 6588
Email: societies@ieaust.org.au

Engineers Australia (Victoria Division)
21 Bedford St North Melbourne, VIC 3051
Tel: (03) 9329 8188
Email: vic@engineersaustralia.org.au

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

back to top of page