| 12 August 2022

Meet Cory McMeekan, graduate member and project engineer at UGL

Cory chats to us about his time in the graduate program and the importance of having a mentor during his early career. 

Can you tell us about your inspiration to study engineering?  

I always had the idea that I wanted to do engineering in school so choosing the subject at high school just confirmed it. I loved doing maths and understanding how things work so it seemed like the right fit for me. Plus, engineering is such a broad field, and you learn great foundational skills to take you anywhere in any industry. 

What was your experience of being in a graduate program?  

I worked as a mechanical engineer in a graduate program, which allowed me to gain experience on several different sites such as power stations, fuel terminals, alumina refineries and rail sites. The benefit to a graduate program is the wide range of skills you learn and the roles you can perform. In my short two years I was across project controls, maintenance engineering, running projects, finance, scheduling, as-built drawings and much more. 

Being a graduate means being challenged but also heavily supported to ensure your success by colleagues that truly see you as an asset. The program is designed to help us decide what we want to do in our careers, and I believe it achieved that. 

What are some of the highlights of your career to-date?  

Successfully completing four power station outages. Every single one has been different and I have learnt and grown from each of them. Working on a fuel terminal under an experienced maintenance engineer who made time to mentor me was invaluable to my career and personal development. Also being given projects to run by myself was daunting but so rewarding. 

What do you like most about being involved in Engineers Australia?  

One hundred per cent the Mentor Match Program. Engineers Australia pairs you with an experienced engineer who is aligned to your future goals. You meet with them on a regular basis to discuss your career, work and their experience. It is such a good way to get a picture into what life looks like a decade from now and some advice on the road ahead. I have gained insight into what future learning will be beneficial to reach my career aspirations and I have also made a friend along the way. 

What have been some of your biggest lessons learnt in this early stage of your career?  

When opportunities come, and they do, jump in and commit yourself. The engineering field is always changing and opportunities come your way often, even the small ones can fast track your career. I also believe connections at work are so important, make friends with everyone that you can. A good project engineer needs to be across all aspects of a project, from engineering and the day-to-day work to legal and commercial operations. Having connections who understand these areas better than you do will allow you to coordinate a project more efficiently.