“I had a fantastic time at NYSF mainly because of the energetic and inspiring people I met there. This impressed the importance of picking a university and course where I could continue to be surrounded by intelligent and enthusiastic peers and teachers.”
Alumna Holstein Wong attended the NYSF in 2008 and is a Graduate Processing Engineer for BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) and also a Rotaract volunteer.
Holstein studied Materials Science and Engineering at UNSW and was awarded the University Medal and 1st Class Honours in Materials Science Engineering. She now works on a mine site for BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance in Central Queensland, a 1.5-hour flight (or 10 hour drive) from Brisbane. “Living residentially in a remote mining town has its challenges, and I never would have pictured this lifestyle even three years ago. Despite the distance, I’m an active volunteer for Rotaract Australia as the Public Relations and Marketing Director, and try to attend as many folk music festivals as I can in my time off!”
Holstein recalls her time at the NYSF in 2008. “I had a fantastic time at NYSF mainly because of the energetic and inspiring people I met there. This impressed the importance of picking a university and course where I could continue to be surrounded by intelligent and enthusiastic peers and teachers.”
“During Year 12 when I was choosing my university preferences, I looked at two main criteria – applicability to industry and the options to go on exchange.” She had thought about taking a gap year, but after attending the NYSF, realised there were ample opportunities to travel through university exchange and potential research internships overseas.
“UNSW was an attractive choice after looking at the university rankings for Engineering, as well as their strong industry links. I was drawn to Materials because the academics and alumni in this interdisciplinary field use technology to provide tangible benefits to society like biocompatible implants and recycling by-products from power generation. The close-knit community at Materials Science Engineering was another plus, although the school has grown significantly since my first year. In third year, I had the opportunity to go on exchange to Swansea University in Wales, and was one of the highlights of time at university.”
Holstein’s role as a Processing Engineer for BHP Billiton involves providing in-house consultation to production crews who operate the coal processing plant on a 24 hour, seven day roster, investigating opportunities to improve plant throughput, yield and utilisation, and identifying the investments to improve productivity in the long term.
“It’s a tough environment and I often draw on non-technical skills I developed at university. A valuable lesson I learnt is to always understand your work (whether it be research or implementation) in the context of what others around you are doing. The one constant across all my workplaces is that people can get really focused in their own bubble, and may not immediately see the benefit of collaboration. Complex problems need solutions resulting from partnerships across multiple disciplines, so being an effective communicator is key.
"Through experiences in frantic production environments, I’ve learnt how to engage people in our work and show how it will add value over the life of the mine.”