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Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO)

4.0
  • 1,000 - 50,000 employees

Brad Boundy

The ability to communicate technical concepts and details with people who may not have the same background or knowledge of the things that I consider important is by far the most important skill I have in my current role.

What's your job about?

Currently, I am working as a Project Engineer on a project to build a state of the art production facility to treat waste products produced in the manufacture of nuclear medicine. Prior to this, I was working as a Project Engineer at Australasia’s only nuclear medicine production facility.

As an example of what I do currently, I was recently tasked with getting one of the systems in the facility ANSTO is building, off the drawing board and into the real world. After working with process engineers to refine what they needed, we had a workable design we could hand to the fabricator. The fabricator refined the design under our instruction, with a lot of back and forth with our Quality Assurance department to make sure it met all the required specifications. After everything was finalised, the fabricator got to work, and a month or two later four tonnes of steel piping arrive for us to have installed and tested.

Knowing that this system will be responsible for keeping people safe for many years to come makes me take the work very seriously, but the flip side is that I can smile and relax knowing that we’ve ensured it’s a high quality, safe, and secure piece of work that will perform exactly how it’s required to.

What's your background?

Originally from country NSW, I grew up around motorbikes and aircraft (my father manages a crop dusting business). This sparked my love of mechanisms, engines, and electronics. I disassembled the engine of my motorbike more than once, then had to ask Dad for help to put it back together. During high school, I loved Physics, Metalworking and Programming subjects.

I moved to Sydney for university in 2010, enrolling in the Mechanical and Mechatronics degree at the University of Technology, Sydney. The most valuable things for me at university were joining the UTS Motorsports team and learning fabrication, design and troubleshooting skills, and going to Canada in 2012 for exchange. I was also president of the Outdoor Adventure Club, which gave me experience delegating and learning to trust and manage the people supporting me.

After graduating in 2015, I worked at a bike store as a mechanic for a while to save money, then went to Europe to live in a van that I converted to a campervan and go mountain biking. After four months, 10,000 km and a destroyed turbocharger, I moved to Canada and worked for another year as a bike mechanic. These experiences gave me a solid foundation in mechanical systems, problem-solving, communication and independence.

After moving back to Australia in 2018, I applied for the ANSTO Graduate Program, began at ANSTO in 2019 and have been loving the experience since! I have worked in two different roles so far. Both quite different but very rewarding. 

The (small) role I play in nuclear medicine production makes me proud of the work I do!

Could someone with a different background do your job?

If not my particular job, then certainly one of the roles in my team. My current position focuses more on Quality Assurance/Quality Control and project management, with some design work thrown in.

My team has varied experience, with some people at a high technical level, and others with a construction background. It often takes a few of us to understand a problem, nut it out, and come up with a solution that the builder/fabricator can understand and implement.

The ability to communicate technical concepts and details with people who may not have the same background or knowledge of the things that I consider important is by far the most important skill I have in my current role. My technical skills enable me to understand and solve issues as they arise, but effectively communicating those solutions to contractors and builders is not as easy as it may sound. 

What's the coolest thing about your job?

I get to design and build equipment for nuclear science and medicine! Being the only nuclear production facility of its type in the Oceanic region, there are not many people that can say that.

Also, knowing that down the line a real person is benefitting from the medicine produced here also makes me proud to tell people what I do.

What are the limitations of your job?

Being a nuclear medicine facility there is a huge amount of planning, checking, QA/QC and paperwork that goes on behind the scenes. Although designing and building things is the best part of my job, it’s often one of the smaller parts of a normal day. An eye for detail and an understanding of the full design process is crucial, otherwise, I might get all the way to final sign-off before realising something was missed and having to go back and do things over again.

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

  1. Get involved in extra-curricular activities. Classroom learning will teach you a lot of things, but it won’t teach you how to work with other people, communicate to people outside your area of study or help you build connections and networks.
  2. Take the opportunities offered to you. My exchange semester in 2012 was one of the single most valuable experiences of my time at university. It gave me the opportunity to learn in a very real way that the rest of the world might not think as I do. The opportunity to be president of the Outdoor Adventure Club also taught me people management skills that I don’t think I would’ve learnt anywhere else.
  3. Get into good study habits early. I wasn’t a great student for the first couple of years, and it took more effort to break out of bad habits than it would have to just maintain them from the get-go. It’s okay, there’s always time for socialising and drinking, you can go do a few more tutorial exercises to really nail down that concept.