Feb 26, 2020People & Industry

Seeing the World Through the Eyes of an Engineer

Seeing the world through an optometrist’s eyes was something that sparked Carolyn Thomas’ initial career aspirations growing up. But the realisation that this meant lots of work in dark rooms, and with some support from a science teacher, she found herself moving away from the world of optometry and instead attending a National Youth Science Forum.

“It opened my eyes to all sorts of interesting careers in engineering and science and I’m really grateful to my teacher for that opportunity because it set me on the path to the engineering profession and the career I have now,” Carolyn said.

Today Carolyn is an Offshore Risk, Environment and Regulatory Supervisor with ExxonMobil in Melbourne.

Her work is based around the oil and gas projects managed by ExxonMobil in Bass Strait. The gas produced there in fact powers millions of homes across Victoria.

“I solve real world problems every day. Every day is different, and every day I work with an amazing team of smart people to ensure that we’re producing oil and gas safely in Bass Strait without harming the environment,” she explained.

“The expectations of our regulators are increasing, aligned with community expectations. The resources we produce are in demand, but we must continue to improve our safety and environmental performance in order to maintain licence to operate to produce them.”

With STEM roles still proving more popular amongst males, there’s a strong push to encourage females to take on studies in the field. Carolyn says the shift to seeing more women in engineering is underway, but it’ll take some time.

“As a society, we still have a challenge in attracting and retaining women into engineering degrees and engineering jobs. There’s more work to be done to get the word out there about the interesting work engineers do, so that girls will consider engineering as a good option for them and keep studying maths and science.”

Her advice to young females unsure if a STEM career is right for them?

“Engineering isn’t an easy degree but it leads to a really rewarding career. No two engineering careers look the same, there’s so much variety in what engineers can do. My advice is try your hand at work experience in different sectors and see what you like!”