Five minutes with Karen Eaton

In the PACE hot seat is Karen Eaton, Principal Control & Instrumentation Engineer, UGL.

How did you come to be in this industry?
I studied Electrical Engineering at UNSW and worked in the prestigious Photovoltaics centre while completing my thesis. I took an interest in the automation of the laboratories at the time.

After graduating, I commenced as a process control system engineer in the water industry, and since then have enjoyed contributing to the successful delivery of many large scale infrastructure projects.

What do you see are the biggest opportunities for our industry?
I am continually inspired by the enthusiasm of the younger members of my team and the innovations they bring to the design and development of automation systems.

With the ever increasing pace of technology it is imperative that these ideas be translated to the wider team.
As an industry, I think it is important that we continue to see investment in graduate engineers and interns as a great opportunity, and formally develop younger staff member's competencies. 

What's the best business idea you have that you will never use?
I do a lot of travelling for work, which drives down efficiency, so it would be great to have functioning teleporter!

What's the greatest challenge in your job?
On large multi-million dollar water infrastructure projects, the automation and control component can sometimes be overlooked as it is only a small part of the overall project budget and schedule.

With commissioning of the control system occurring at the critical end phase of any project, the risk to the overall budget and schedule are often high.

It is sometimes a challenge to have this risk acknowledged. I have been fortunate that UGL recognises this, and has developed an in-house system integration department.

This team fully integrates into wider projects teams, allowing easy and early involvement in the design phase, and fostering a cohesive culture with all stakeholders throughout a project's lifecycle.

If you could be anything else, what would it be and why?
As a child I wanted to be an astronaut, but quickly realised this would never be! I am a good organiser – so maybe event manager?

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