Considering a career in electrical engineering?
We spoke with Montana Dawson about what it takes to enter the field and her role as a Graduate Electrical Engineer at Stanwell.
In her role, she’s responsible for designing and fixing issues with electrical equipment, and managing projects to ensure work is completed correctly, on time, and on budget.
“This could be reviewing or creating drawings, assessing manuals and datasheets to understand how something works, writing project scopes and risk assessments, inspecting equipment out in the field, or working with electricians,” said Montana.
“I can wear many hats, from being a designer, or a project manager, to working with finances or being an event organizer. Sometimes it can be a lot to familiarize yourself with – but you learn so much.”
How she came to join Stanwell
After completing high school, she jumped straight into her degree, which included a compulsory year of placement.
“I commenced my first co-op placement towards the end of 2019. I moved to Tannum Sands to work at an aluminium smelter, operated by Rio Tinto. After working in this role for a little over a year, I entered the Powerlink Queensland Vacation Program and moved to Brisbane.”
Montana began her second placement at Stanwell Power Station near Rockhampton last year and moved into her graduate role with the company at the start of this year.
“Our power stations are amongst the newest and most efficient in Australia. Stanwell is also working proactively towards a green future by investing in renewable projects.”
However, it may surprise people to learn…
“The degree required for this role doesn’t directly transfer over to you practicing as an engineer. In working on an industrial site, you need many skills, both academic and practical.”
Montana knew she’d made the right decision from her first interview with her site supervisor.
“As soon as we stepped onsite, he explained the plant items we’d see. I have a passion for learning and to have him educate me right off the bat made me so excited for the potential opportunity to work at Stanwell.
“It’s worth noting too that I feel encouraged that Stanwell has a genuine commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
Stanwell has a wide range of employee-led diversity groups, employee support programs, and more.
Find out how else Stanwell support their employees.
What does the average day look like
“I rise early at 5:30am to get to the power station at 7:00am as it is a 30-minute drive from home. Every morning I attend the Engineering Team’s pre-start meeting where we discuss how the plant operated overnight and any general business planned for the day ahead.
“I will then work through my tasks which change from day-to-day. It could consist of amending drawings, writing design notes, project managing, reading manuals and datasheets, performing calculations, or inspecting equipment.”
“I mainly work with the engineers and electricians in my team to facilitate this work. I then finish my day at 4:30pm and hit the gym or take a walk to the park with the dogs and then come home to do life stuff like cook dinner and spend time with my partner.”
Why Stanwell is the best place to spend her days?
Montana is pleased to have received so many learning opportunities in the business – in particular, how to effectively communicate with a wide variety of individuals to achieve the best outcomes.
“My role has an impact because of the support I give to my immediate team of electrical engineers, and the electricians to solve problems. I work with so many smart, supportive, and encouraging team members. They provide knowledge, advice, and work with me all throughout the power plant.”
In fact, there are plenty of informal and formal training opportunities.
“Stanwell has enabled me to undertake any development opportunity I have shown interest in and recommended plenty for me too. I’ve been to conferences and factory tours and gained amazing exposure.”
The best days for Montana are when she is fault finding a plant issue.
“If something has broken down and I’m able to contribute to a solution to bring that plant item back online, I feel very accomplished.”
Overall, Montana is pleased to have so much progress in her full-time role, while completing her studies. She’s just finished her degree with first-class honours!
“I’ve wanted to be an engineer since I was a teenager, so I’m proud to have finally made it into my dream career. Enthusiasm and eagerness pay off! For other graduates, I recommend taking on whatever work placement opportunities you can grab during university. It provides context to the content you’re learning and helps you discover your preferred niche within the many disciplines there are to choose from!”