What’s your job about?
My company owns, operates, maintains and upgrades the electricity distribution and transmission system in the South West of Western Australia.
My responsibilities as a graduate range from designing new customer connections to the South West Interconnected System (SWIS), investigation of asset failures, transmission system studies to project management type roles.
My day-to-day tasks differ from team to team as I am rotated through different areas of the organisation. For example, in Customer Initiation – Distribution Design, I would engage with distribution customers, talk through their energy needs, scope out the network augmentation required and draw up the distribution designs.
In Network Project Delivery, I would attend various meetings with key stakeholders for the Asset Replacement Program including design manager meetings, construction schedule meetings, network operations planner meetings, etc. Other days I will be out on site at different substations with construction managers planning the upcoming outages for the asset replacement projects.
What’s your background?
I was born in Perth, Western Australia. Being Malaysian/Chinese descent, I had regular family trips back to Malaysia and Singapore during my primary schooling years, but all my education, work experiences and work has been in Australia.
I completed a four-year bachelor degree of Electrical Power Engineering in Curtin University, Bentley in 2017, during which I received the Curtin Engineering Excellence Scholarship and the Australia Power Institute (API) bursary award.
The API bursary award helped me greatly in securing vocational work experience at two great engineering companies – including Western Power! That makes a total of three months summer vacation work experience plus the current two years I have been working in this organisation.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
Not unless they complete an electrical/electronic engineering degree. This is because a fundamental knowledge of electrical principles, theories, standards are needed every day.
It is definitely as important, if not more, to have strong communication skills as an engineer. Not only do you need to know how to perform system load studies, understand protection principals, design electrical networks – but you must convey your thoughts and ideas to your team mates, other stakeholders and most importantly – customers.
What’s the coolest thing about your job?
I love the industry my job is involved with. Getting electricity from the generators to all consumers whether in the central business district, or 400km south in Albany, Western Power is there to keep the lights on for everyone, all the time.
A specific perk of my role would be the site visits – I have had to travel down to Albany, with an overnight stay, for outage planning at Albany substation for the asset replacement program. Another site visit I really enjoyed was to Badgingarra Wind and Solar Farm, where I witnessed, and assisted, the senior engineer undertake the commissioning testing of the wind and solar farm.
What are the limitations of your job?
Some teams in the organisation do not get the luxury to get out of the office as much as other teams.
Another possible limitation would be if your role required you to be on-call during outages or faults on the system.
Three pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student…