SPREE Alumni Catherine O'Neill 2016
Degree: Bachelor of Photovoltaic and Solar Energy Engineering
Graduation Year: 2016
What motivated you to choose the PV/RE degree?
I decided that I wanted to study engineering because of the subjects I enjoyed at school - maths and science, but needed to decide on the specific discipline. I chose the PV degree because I wanted to have a positive impact on the world around me, and I was particularly concerned about the increasing impact of climate change.
What is your current role and where? What are the things you do in this role?
I am currently at AECOM, (large engineering consulting firm) in their Sydney Power division, working specifically in a small dynamic team focusing on renewable energy generation projects. I mainly work on large-scale solar farm projects, developing designs for clients or providing ongoing advice to the solar farm owners throughout the development, construction and commissioning phases of projects. My job is a mix of technical analysis, design, report writing and project management tasks, where no two days are the same.
Are you involved in any interesting projects?
I was also involved in an Owner's Engineer role for a 50MW solar farm that was constructed adjacent to a decommissioned coal fired power plant and in the heart of Queensland’s coal country - with operating mines visible from site. It was amazing to see firsthand, and know I'm contributing to, the huge transformation to clean energy that is underway in Australia.
What do you believe are the unique skills that you developed in your PV/RE degree? How have these skills helped you during your career?
There are a few specific subjects from the PV degree that have helped me in my job day to day - the main one being Grid Connected PV Systems which taught me how to design PV systems applying relevant Australian Standards. The key skills that have helped my career so far, however, have been the softer skills around teamwork, research and report writing. The degree taught me how to problem solve and helped me develop the discipline to persevere when the answer isn't immediately obvious.