For Peter Mckenzie (2003), life after Monash has been a melting pot.
Peter is a graduate process engineer at Portland Aluminium, where he works in Smelting Services, which monitors and, when necessary, repairs the fume-capture system that extracts gaseous products from the electrolytic cells in the plant’s potrooms. He also works in the ingot mill, where molten aluminium produced in the potrooms is cast into 22.5 kg ingots.
‘The graduate process engineering role at Alcoa has provided me with the opportunity to use the analytical skills developed at Monash,’ Peter says.
Peter enjoys working with the operators and crews at the plant. ‘Providing engineering support can be extremely rewarding when something is implemented to further streamline the process and make their job easier,’ he says.
His job includes reviewing engineering drawings, using key performance indicators to evaluate the performance of the ingot mill, contributing technical expertise to projects, chairing meetings, and providing performance updates on the mill’s performance to other technical staff.
The most challenging aspect of the job, Peter says, is ensuring that he prioritises his work. ‘Also, speaking with operators and interpreting their concerns correctly can be extremely challenging when it is not clear how to resolve a particular problem without assistance from contractors with more expertise.’
Peter’s future was set when he attended career days held at Monash. The meetings offered him the opportunity not only to speak with people from industry about future employment prospects, but also to understand how the topics taught as part of his materials engineering degree related to working in industry.
‘I always wanted to work in industry, even before I started the Monash course,’ says Peter, who completed his PhD in 2007.
Apart from studying a range of materials-related subjects, highlights of Peter’s time at Monash included working as a research assistant during his summer vacation, using the ECAP and electron microscope facilities, and receiving an award from the Metals Club for his final-year project.
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