Round Table

Round Table – Graduate Experience

We asked some of our Bluefield team members about their first experience as a graduate.

Even the most senior engineering professional begins as a graduate, and Bluefield is no different (read about Emma’s experience here).  For many, the transition from university to a real-world operational environment is a steep learning curve, but the lessons we learn as graduates are often the ones that stick with us. We asked several of our Bluefield team members the following question: 

 What was your first major project as a graduate, and how did it turn out? 

Colin Sheldon 

My first project as a freshfaced graduate at Lake Lindsay was not overly big or costly, but it was a great learning experience. It involved the modification of a number of kidney looping trolleys that the site had bought in years gone by; in particular we retrofitted 4 trolleys to cycle the oil on 793D & 785C rear wheel groups and hydraulic tanks, as well as 830E wheel motors and hydraulic oil reservoirs.  

It was driven by the condition monitoring and reliability side of the business and it was satisfying at the end to see the distinct improvement in oil quality from oil sample results and the onboard particle counter. 

I think a key part was engaging almost everyone on the shop floor to get their opinion on the system and how each trolley could be improved – as a newbie with little practical experience I think this works in your favour when trying to gain buy-in from those who will be using the system on a regular basis. 

 (See Colin’s video here). 

Stefan Van Der Linde 

Ask Peter Yates! I think it can be summarised by a scene from the Office “See those files behind Kevin’s desk, go put them all in random order, then come back here for your next assignment concerning their order”. 

 In my 2nd year I was given the task of planning a dragline shutdown, not really directly related to my role, but it taught me a lot about building relationships and how to gather information together. Plus, it very quickly showed me how much I didn’t know! 

Peter Yates 

(Laughing). If I recall correctly 6am pick up was a challenge and Vodaphone coverage in Moranbah was the other. Those were the days aye! 

Gerard Wood 

I was not a graduate from University, but I was a graduate from an associate diploma and I was a supervisor. I had to do a dragline boom lowering and mini shutdown in unscheduled manner. I shit myself several times and the stress of the boom lowering was huge, but it all turned out good. 

 (See Gerard’s video here). 

Matthew Grant 

My first project was replacing the discharge lines on a filter plant. It was all good except for two small, but very important details.  The first was that the contractors ignored the instructions not to perform hot work on the rubber-lined pipe, which ended up causing a fire. It taught me that safety is not set-and-forget; a Job Safety Analysis is useless without the behaviour and on-the-ground supervision to ensure it’s actually followed. 

The second detail was that, when checking off all the pipework pieces the day before, I missed the fact that two bends hadn’t been fabricated as long-radius. So of course, they didn’t fit, a fact we only found out at 2am, already late because of the fire. Unbelievably, we found two perfectly-sized and usable pieces in the rubbish dump (a stroke of luck I still can’t believe to this day). But the lesson stuck with me regardless. 

 I guess I hadn’t yet learned Bluefield’s philosophy of planning the details….. 

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