If you enjoy engineering and cutting edge electronics then Chrissee's role as a development engineer would be right up your street. She is helping to develop car safety systems.
Job description: Chrissee is part of a worldwide team developing electronic sensors for the automotive industry. She's part of the team taking the sensors from design into prototyping and preparation for production.
Subjects studied: English, Maths R and D, Physics, Chemistry and Accounting.
Further training: Bachelor of Manufacturing/Chemical Engineering, Swinburne University of Technology (4.5 years); Certificate in Plastics Fundamentals, Swinburne (14 weeks); Masters in Product Design Innovation, Swinburne University of Technology (1.5 years - ongoing); German language, German Language Centre, Melbourne (ongoing).
Chrissee is part of a global team working on a new safety system for cars.
The Electronic Stability Program will help drivers remain in control when driving on slippery roads or when having to swerve suddenly to avoid an object.
"Although this will never compensate for people not driving carefully, I hope that products like this will become standard in all vehicles, making our roads safer," she says.
Chrissee is working on a crucial component for the program, the Steering Wheel Angle Sensor. The sensor is designed in Germany, but will be manufactured here in Australia.
"Much of my time is spent communicating and relaying information between Germany and Australia. Often I am in close contact with my German team trying to solve one-off design problems and helping to ensure that the design is suitable for mass production in the factory."
"About a third of my time is at the desk, another third on the production line, and the rest of my time is spent talking to people."
Exciting times for electronics in cars
Bosch is an exciting place to work as the company has a leading role in automotive electronics, and that's where the action is in automotive development.
"Electronics have revolutionised the car. And we've only just started - companies around the world are developing all sorts of new concepts - braking by wire, even steering by wire, and links to GPS systems so you never take a wrong turn. The numbers of moving parts in cars keeps getting smaller as electronics and sensors take their place".
"So I'm always learning something new, and I love being part of a team and solving problems. Technology is a fantastic environment. It's clean and I work in world class facilities using leading edge machinery - none of those dirty, depressing old 1940s machines that people sometimes associate with mass production manufacturing."
Opening the doors
Doing science subjects at school opened the door to a range of interesting opportunities for Chrissee. Keeping her options open, by doing a broad range of subjects at school and university, was a key factor.
Chrissee's engineering course included compulsory industry placements that opened her eyes to the potential of engineering. It included a year at a cement works in Tasmania, nine months at Visy Industries in Melbourne and a four-month traineeship at the Delft University of Technology in Holland. And she knows that finishing her course doesn't mean that she knows it all.
"These days, you have to accept that you will be learning all your life, and continuously studying. If you love your subject, that's no problem. Engineering is an exciting leading edge industry which makes you very employable."
Working for a global company like Bosch opens up opportunities for advancement and jobs around the world.
"At some stage I will go to Germany for some specialist training. In December this year I'm off to Detroit to speak on our Corporate Citizenship Program at a management meeting. I hope to be working overseas for at least three to five years in either Europe or America and I want to move into a management position."
Mechatronic engineers design and maintain machinery with electronic and computer control systems, such as aircraft, robots, motor vehicles, cameras, power generators and mining and chemical plant machinery.
Mechatronic engineers may perform the following tasks:
- Design, develop, maintain and manage high-technology engineering systems for the automation of industrial tasks
- Apply mechatronic or automated solutions to the transfer of material, components or finished goods
- Apply advanced electronic control systems, which are usually computer-driven
- Design and assist in the manufacture of consumer products, such as cameras and video recorders
- Apply electronic and mechanical processes and computers to tasks where the use of human labour may be dangerous (e.g. underwater exploration, mining or forestry)
- Carry out studies into the feasibility, costs implications and performance benefits of new mechatronic equipment
- Enjoy technical and engineering activities
- Good communication skills
- Able to work as part of a team
- Able to think creatively and problem solve
- Interested in mechanical equipment, such as robotic and production equipment, physics and mathematics.
Find out more about this career path at myfuture.edu.au (Note: free registration is required to access the myfuture site).