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Bright minds, brighter futures

13 July 2017
We follow the early careers of four young engineers

What can an engineering graduate expect in their first few years after university? We caught up with four young alumni from different disciplines to see where their studies have taken them.

David Boyd

David Boyd

Fleet Performance Engineer, QANTAS

Bachelor of Engineering Honours (Aeronautical) / Bachelor of Science (Mathematics and Computer Science)

'How do planes fly?' This simple question took David Boyd on the runway towards a soaring aviation career. After graduating from the University of Sydney with a degree in aeronautical engineering, David was accepted into the Summer Engineering Internship program at QANTAS.

There he learned how to evaluate the performance of QANTAS planes, such as the Boeing 787-9, using in-house software. Equipped with this knowledge, David secured a position in QANTAS' development team as a Fleet Performance Engineer less than a year after graduating.

Today, David is ecstatic about his role. He appreciates the challenges and dynamic environment the airline industry has to offer. "Each day I learn something new about aircraft and airline operations, and this constant learning process is something that I really enjoy," says David.

David attributes some of his success to his decision to change his double degree in Arts to Science, majoring on Computer Science. "Having a Computer Science major opened up so many additional careers; a large amount of engineering roles are now asking for programing and computer science knowledge", says David.

"Don't study something just because it has a high ATAR; pick something you will love," David advises prospective students. The outcome of this philosophy is certainly being played out now as David continues to fuel his career with new learnings on the job at QANTAS.

Michael Topham

Michael Topham

Product Manager, Corin

Bachelor of Engineering Honours (Biomedical)

Seeing a product through from its initial design to commercialisation and distribution is an engineer's dream come true for Michael Topham. Two years out of university, this biomedical engineering graduate is now a Product Manager at Corin where he leads a team of six.

"Managing and designing projects with my team which are implemented into our production line is definitely the most enjoyable aspect of my role," says Michael.

Michael's career journey began early, when his peers convinced him to come along to the SUABE networking event at university. There he learned about the summer internship program at Optimized Ortho. "I learnt that networking isn't just a buzz word, it's something that actually allows you to get to where you want to go," says Michael. With his foot in the door, Michael climbed the ranks and became a simulation engineer. He was responsible for processing CT scans and X-rays through kinematic simulations.

In the innovative world of biomedical technology, Michael has found himself at the forefront of life-changing technologies and encourages others to do the same.  "If you are interested in software and engineering, definitely consider combining these interests with biomedical engineering. They are fun and entertaining fields to work in," says Michael. "I think there will be many more opportunities for biomedical engineers to integrate software into existing infrastructure and create new tools that we haven't even thought of yet."

Renee Noble

Renee Noble

Software Engineer, Data 61 

Bachelor of Engineering (Chemical and Biomolecular) / Bachelor of Science (Chemistry)

A career in coding wasn't the plan for this chemical and biomolecular engineering student. With an aptitude for maths, chemistry, physics, biology and creative thinking, Renee Noble decided do a double degree in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Science. "The combination of Chemical Engineering and Science meant that I could study the things I enjoy, whilst having some diversity in my degree", says Renee.

"When I got to uni, I discovered computer science and was glad I had that flexibility to add it to my science degree. I took up some computer science subjects and persevered, even though everyone else had a lot more programming experience than I did. Eventually I caught up, climbed to the top of some of the classes and now I work for Data61–CSIRO because of it," says Renee.

Renee's career is a testament to the unpredictable nature of career paths, and the importance of flexible learning initiatives such as the Flexible First Year Program. Today, Renee is thrilled with where her studies have taken her. "I get the chance to look at real world problems and see how we can use data and algorithms to create solutions," says Renee. "I'm currently designing algorithms to find better ways to match students to internships, using artificial intelligence so students and businesses get the best experience possible."

Gavin Barnes

Gavin Barnes

Project Manager, Lendlease 

Bachelor of Engineering (Civil) / Bachelor of Science (Chemistry)

"For students interested in understanding the way things work, and the improving the world around them, I would highly recommend studying a Bachelor of Civil Engineering at the University of Sydney," says Gavin Barnes, now a Project Manager at Lendlease, a global construction company headquartered in Sydney.

"Working in the realm of construction project management provides an opportunity to learn a great diversity of skill sets and techniques. Also, working in a team that completes shorter lifecycle projects means that new challenges are encountered and overcome regularly," says Gavin.

Gavin was drawn to engineering as early as high school. "I formed great interests in sciences and structures growing up. Upon leaving school, I realised that engineering would be an interesting and fulfilling career, whereby I could practice and influence these areas," says Gavin.

With technology reshaping the way we live and interact with our physical spaces, adaptation is key for civil engineers of today. Gavin refuses to fall behind. "Disruptive technologies are significant in our field; they challenge the traditional way of doing things. For instance with commercial fit-outs, more people are able to work from home, and organisations are shifting to meet this new way of working."

A shift in industry calls for a new generation of engineering graduates driven by data and creativity. "We will be needing people with evolving ideas and capability to cater for society's ever-changing needs. This will require manipulation of the vast amount of data that is available, so I see roles further complemented with use of data analytics within existing jobs," says Gavin.

Are you a young Alumnus or Alumna of the Faculty of Engineering and IT doing great things in your first years out of university? We'd love to hear your story! Contact us at