Grass is Green for mechanical engineer

Australian Paper Maryvale Mill graduate mechanical engineer Rachael Green standing beside the DIP which removes ink from used paper to create fibre for new paper products. photograph hayley mills

Australian Paper Maryvale Mill graduate mechanical engineer Rachael Green standing beside the DIP which removes ink from used paper to create fibre for new paper products. photograph hayley mills

As a youngster, Rachael Green knew she was interested in a career involving maths and physics.

Her "mechanically-minded" father and a curiosity for "making things work" led her to study a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering at RMIT before moving to the Latrobe Valley 18 months ago to take up a post at Australian Paper's Maryvale mill.

The graduate mechanical engineer is the only woman on the floor, and one of just two women in the 30-odd person building.

Despite the gender ratio, Ms Green, 23, has urged other women in the Latrobe Valley to consider a career in one of the region's key industries, like timber in this instance.

"I'd say give it a go. If you think you're capable of doing the job or strong enough to do it, why not?" Ms Green said.

"I find that if you show that you're willing and happy to do it and you treat everyone with the same respect that you would at any point in time they'll give you the same."

One may consider working in an industry which has more men than women could be challenging, however, Ms Green's experience since joining Maryvale has been a positive experience – and a career move which she does not regret.

"So long as you show you're enthusiastic for the work and you're willing to listen to what other people are saying ... then they're pretty willing to listen to you too," Ms Green said.

"I think it helps though that I've got good mentors and our senior mechanical engineer is quite highly recognised so when you're bouncing things off him as well, if he's happy with what you're doing other people seem to be happy with it as well."

As the mill undergoes its annual shutdown – one of the biggest shuts in recent times – the graduate engineer originally from the Mornington Peninsula said there were a number of skills required to do the job.

Currently working with the asset inspection group, Ms Green is part-way through a three year graduate program which places the engineers in different areas of the facility on rotation every six months.

"I think definitely maths and physics is important, problem solving and being able to bring things back to the basics – so being able to look at a problem and not see it for all the bits and pieces it is but seeing it for the simple side of things," Ms Green said.

"I also like the idea of a hands-on aspect so it seemed like the right career path when going through [university]."

Ms Green is one of many mill workers who studied elsewhere but relocated to the region for a brighter future – and a career for life which she believes will have promising outcomes.

"I know that there's two career paths that engineers often go down – you can either stay in a technical path or go into a management role," Ms Green said.

"I'm not really sure where I want to go yet because I do really enjoy the technical aspect but I do have little bits of managerial work to do myself and I don't mind that either."

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