Mar 23, 2020People & Industry

Meet a Robotics Laboratory Manager

Delene manages the Karda robotics lab in Perth for natural gas company Woodside. In this team, an enquiring mind coupled with a willingness to tackle new challenges can take you far.

In October I went to Texas where I spent a month at NASA’s Johnson Space Centre in Houston learning about robots, and a follow-up trip is on the cards.

Working on robots at NASA might seem a far cry from my first job after leaving school in Perth, a receptionist at a photographic studio.

Through a temping agency I secured various positions as a personal assistant at investment banks in London and picked up new computing skills before I came home to Australia. I did accounts, payroll, HR, admin, purchasing, writing contracts, managed FIFO contracts, running my own team and managing the office.

I joined Woodside in 2015 as a management assistant in Contracting and Procurement, and then took another role in the same function before transferring to the Australian Business Unit.

I then joined the Intelligent and Autonomous Systems team (as the robotics and wireless sensor and data fusion discipline is officially called) at the start of 2019. It’s fast-paced and diverse, which I enjoy very much; I like to be challenged and this role definitely does that!

I work in our Karda building in a team of 30-plus. We’re very close-knit. It’s one thing I really appreciate about working at Woodside.

My day:

6:00 –  I prepare for work and take the train into the city. I normally arrive at Karda around 7.30 and my priority is to get a coffee to start my day. I then check my emails to see if anything’s arrived that I need to deal with urgently. Then I have a quick catch up with my lab assistant where we discuss and plan the day’s activities.

9:00 – I run the monthly safety meetings at the lab. All the team comes together for 15-30 mins and we run through any safety issues people need to be aware of. I also update everybody on any works that are happening in the lab, or Facilities Management items.

10:00 – I deal with correspondence to NASA about my recent visit to Houston. As part of our five-year umbrella agreement with NASA, we have Robonaut on loan – one of only eight Robonauts in the world. We want robots to do the high-risk jobs our people do to make it safer for our employees and freeing the operators to do more planning and strategic thinking.

11:00 – A meeting with Corporate Affairs advisers, as there’s a resources technology conference in Perth coming up and we need alignment on what is required of our team and what robots are expected at the event.

12:00 – I take myself down to the gym for a workout, a class or whatever might be happening. This is my mental health time. It clears my head and sets me up with a fresh mindset for the afternoon. Then I’ll eat lunch afterwards as I check my emails.

2:00 – A fortnightly team lead meeting canvasses priorities and big demonstrations we might have coming up, and that’s followed by our monthly team meeting for the whole intelligent and autonomous systems team.

5:00 – Time for a last check of emails before I go home to relax with my husband and dogs.