At high school Tom’s thing was always maths and science, so getting into engineering made a lot of sense.
“It was the logical next step!” he says of his decision to enrol in a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical and Sports) at the University of Adelaide. “I liked the idea of pushing the boundaries of what was thought to be possible!”
While studying, Tom completed a three-month work experience stint at a local hydraulics company, which gave him an invaluable taste of on-the-job reality. But it was only after finishing his degree and heading overseas for two years that he started to see how his engineering skills could take his career in a completely different direction.
“I took on a few different jobs once I got back before landing a contract with a company working on defence projects,” he explains. “I knew a few people who had worked in defence but up until then was never sure of how it was associated with engineering!”
Same skills, new career
After wrapping up the contract Tom’s boss alerted him to a similar – more permanent – gig going at Defence Science and Technology (DST), where he went through the application process to score his current position as a decision scientist.
Although working with statistics to uncover insights and make decisions isn’t a traditional engineering role, Tom regularly applies his specialised fluency in data analytics, computer modelling, algorithms and problem-solving when tackling projects. And due to the critical nature of the work, there is no shortage of extra training and up-skilling opportunities.
“The projects are constantly evolving,” he says. “Our skills need to be regularly updated to complete them to the level required.”
Tom rates the job flexibility and opportunity for travel among the major perks of being employed by DST – “it allows for better morale!” – along with working in large-scale teams on assignments that directly impact defence as an industry.
And his advice to anyone considering hunting down a similar role?
“Follow your passions! There are so many options to explore with engineering, including plenty that you might be unaware of.”
Find out more: bit.ly/DSTCareers
Author: Cassie Steel
As Refraction’s digital editor, Cassie Steel spends her days researching robots and stalking famous scientists on Twitter.