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Natural curiosity led to an exciting career in submarines - feature image, used as a supportive image and isn't important to understand article

At school, engineering team leader Kieran always loved maths, physics and sport.

Now, in his role with Babcock, working in Australia’s Naval Shipbuilding Industry, Kieran has a career that combines the best of all three – getting to solve challenging problems while working in a team.

Kieran is at the forefront of ensuring Australia’s submarine fleet is fit for purpose. With his team at South Australia’s Osborne shipyard, he supports the maintenance of the Australian Navy’s Collins Class submarine fleet.

Turning full circle from university to TAFE – and back again

Kieran’s path to engineering was unlike most. “My journey was definitely different,” he says. “I tried uni first but at the time it didn't feel right for me.”

After completing school at Modbury High School in South Australia, Kieran pursued an apprenticeship, becoming a qualified fitter and turner with a Certificate III in Engineering, Mechanical Trade through TAFE NSW. He worked as a designer/draftsperson in the oil and gas sector for six years while rediscovering his hunger for university study.

“After I gained the apprenticeship, the business [I was working for] allowed me to go back to study part time for my uni degree. That’s where the spark came from - I could see my studies get put into action, it was just really rewarding.”

Kieran now holds a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical Engineering) from the University of South Australia. While it took a little longer to reach his destination as an engineer, in hindsight, he would not change his journey.

“I’ve [gained] a lot of broader experiences,” he says.

Moving into management

Kieran joined Babcock as a production support engineer and now oversees a team that sustains and upgrades the weapons systems on Australia’s Collins Class submarines.

Sustaining and maintaining Australia’s submarines involves dissembling, repairing and putting back together the vessels. The sustainment and maintenance work is undertaken by specialist companies who have won contracts from the Australian Government.

When submarine components are brought into the engineering workshop to be maintained and upgraded “the problems are always different, it’s a very fast paced moving environment and that’s probably a big drawcard for me”, Kieran says. “I like change and the different issues that arise.”

Advice for others

Kieran’s big piece of advice: “Just give things a go”.

“For me ... I dwelled too much on ‘can I do this for the rest of my life’ as opposed to giving things a go and then adjusting as I went. It was a big part of understanding my likes, my dislikes and my future.”

To find out more about careers in naval shipbuilding, visit