Five minutes with Tim Mahony

In the PACE hot seat is Tim Mahony, Manager Electrical Engineering, Wide Bay Water Corporation.

How did you come to be in this industry?
I started out as a graduate engineer in the water and wastewater industry before moving to a consultancy that worked across all engineering industries.

After a decade, I moved back into the water and wastewater industry where I have remained for the past ten years. Providing an essential service to the local community is certainly both rewarding and challenging.

What's the best business idea you have that you will never use?
As a young engineer I designed a "hockey puck" style earth leakage device that would plug into any general purpose outlet. The idea was to offer protection against electrocution for any household device that plugged into the power outlet.

This was a cheap solution for all homes that didn't have earth leakage installed. A little old lady could purchase the device for a few dollars and install it herself without hiring an electrician.

What do you see are the biggest opportunities for our industry?
Taking advantage of the rapid evolution of technology to provide solutions for our plant operators that are both easy to use and reliable.

It is rewarding to give operators a user interface that provides them with the ability to control and monitor their entire plant from a single point especially when they previously were required to walk around the plant to do their job.

The advent of fieldbus technology and its increasing use in Australia has certainly given electrical engineers more opportunities to provide an end solution that is both robust and easy to maintain.

What's the greatest challenge in your job?
Convincing non-technical personnel that PLC code doesn't change by itself. In 99.9 percent of cases the cause of the problem is external to the PLC. Non-technical personnel have a hard time grasping this concept. Through lots of communication, I am slowly turning the tide on this one. And restoring my sanity.

If you could be anything else, what would it be and why?
I would be a volunteer in a third world orphanage caring for young children. Given the opportunity, it would be great to provide support and love to some children who have lost so much.

This will remain a goal when I retire from engineering. We are fortunate to have the opportunity to live in Australia and the resources to help our not so well off neighbours.

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