Acciona Construction Australia
Engineer on Australia’s largest wind farm
Alice is a civil engineer, currently working on-site on one of Australia’s largest construction projects. Melbourne-born, she’s relocated to Queensland for the MacIntyre Wind Farm Project. Here she works on turbine foundation construction and manages works from excavation to structural elements such as steel, concrete, grout and backfill for the footings.
She is a passionate about promoting construction, engineering and STEM in general to women and girls and participates in events and programs around the country at primary, secondary, tertiary and industry levels – keen to inspire young women to consider STEM for their future career, and most importantly explore and find their passion! Currently she is a member of Homeward Bound’s 7th cohort of Women in STEM around the world and a member of the Engineers Australia Women in Engineering National Committee and in the past has been involved with Robogals, Engineers Without Borders, Curious Minds, and Finding Ada.
I’m currently working for Acciona Construction Australia on MacIntyre Wind Farm (MIWF) in Cement Mills, QLD. It is one of the biggest on-shore wind farms in the world and the first of its size in Australia – a jewel in the green energy crown for QLD and the nation. The project will generate over 1000MW of green energy (equivalent to 700,000 households) and 400 jobs. I’m in construction because I love seeing my work come to life and benefit the community. Every turbine that goes up at MIWF is another 4000 households worth of energy, 16,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions avoided, another avenue of income diversification for the local farmers, and countless hours of labour from the team, many of whom are from the neighbouring regional Council areas of Goondiwindi, Southern Downs and Toowoomba. I truly believe that this project is benefiting not only the local Queensland economy, energy security, and reputation on the world stage, but also the national and global efforts towards sustainability and climate change reduction.
Zooming in from the big picture, I’m always an active contributor to my direct community, from those I work directly with to the wider organisation and industry. On-site I look to create a safe and welcoming community for women as the site environment can be isolating and intimidating. As such I am actively engaged in the feedback cycle with management, advocating from the female perspective, and am an in-camp wellbeing contact for other women living away from home.
I’m a speaker and mentor on a national level and am always striving to increase women and girls’ participation in STEM.
While I’m just getting started directly in Queensland, I hope to be able to bring my skills and passion to this state as I have at home in Victoria.
At a recent event I was described as “the funnest civil engineer”. I believe humour makes a topic more accessible and we all want to have fun at work and I think this encapsulates what I bring to the table – energy, passion and a drive to enthuse other women for this industry.
My enthusiasm for my career is contagious and I love watching girls be energised by my fervent storytelling. I truly love my job – which even I think is crazy sometimes because the facts of it (living away from home for 10 days at a time, 12-hour days in the dust and heat, working on-site where women are 3% of the workforce) seem fundamentally unlovable. But I didn’t always have the passion I have now and wasn’t always aware of how I wanted to make my mark on the world. I often say how I “accidentally” ended up in my dream job because I really only chose the path I did because of job prospects and the subjects I was good at in school.
I think this is such a common story for lots of STEM professionals – they’re good at maths and science and have an interest and general curiosity for how things work, but they don’t have a clear picture in their mind of what they want their job to be. Often you just have to follow your nose and take the opportunities you come across until you find that thing that makes you want to go to work each day. I truly believe that passion is the result of action, not the cause of it, so I encourage young women and girls to try as many things as they can and reflect on what they like and don’t like along the way.
My focus is trying to help girls feel less alone and lost when they’re making choices about their future – if they choose STEM, then that’s a great move. But, if not, I hope I can show them what a journey looks like where you didn’t know where you’d end up at the start and help them be less fearful of the jump into the unknown.
Additionally, I really am an advocate and champion for every single person I connect with. I’m always keen to share knowledge, connect people to others in my network, and open doors. At every step of my journey, I’ve tried to pass something down to those coming behind me. I constantly share learnings, and opportunities to my network. I love giving feedback on everything to try to improve the experience for women in industry and I actively work with managers to give suggestions for improvement of programs and processes to be more inclusive and impactful.
I’ve been actively involved in promoting STEM since I was at university. I was on the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) committee and volunteered for Robogals Melbourne, serving on their executive as Secretary/Treasurer. WISE aimed to create a support network for women studying STEM and provide networking opportunities, while Robogals engaged school-aged children in engineering workshops.
In 2020 I spoke at the virtual Finding Ada conference about utilising social media at each stage of the Women in STEM “leaky pipeline” to increase the participation of women and girls in STEM.
In 2021 I was a STEM Coach for the Curious Minds program, mentoring a year 10 student to execute a STEM project, springboard conversations about careers and provide encouragement and support.
I’m an active alumnus of my university and secondary school. I’ve attended numerous speaking events representing the engineering and construction industry. I am an Alumni mentor and have had 3 student mentees including numerous one-off meetings as part of their “Ask Alumni” program. Predominantly I give my insights about the industry and assist with graduate program planning and applications.
More recently (2020-2023) I have been involved with Engineers Without Borders on their Victorian Regional Committee with the Events and Fundraising team. I orchestrated online and in-person events to engage members and raise money for local programs which include STEM outreach.
I joined the Engineers Australia (EA) Women in Engineering (WIE) Committee Victoria in 2022 where I was involved with planning and executing a trial of informal bi-monthly networking events. I was also involved in planning other outreach events in collaboration with other EA technical societies. When I moved to Queensland, I engaged with the QLD WIE chapter and am now a co-opted member of the National Committee where I’m working on unifying the LinkedIn page of all the regional chapters to streamline communication of the National program of CPD.
I am also undertaking the Homeward Bound leadership program (2022-2023) where I’ve developed my leadership skills and connected with 100 women in STEM across the world. I’ve enhanced my visibility, particularly at work where I am regularly sought for speaking engagements with school-aged students and with industry. Recently I have presented in panel-discussions at 2 events, the first directed at internal and external industry representatives to discuss the IWD theme of DigitALL, and the other focused on careers in STEM, and presented alongside an expo showcasing various exciting industry projects to secondary school students. I have also attended numerous grad fairs/expos as a representative to talk about construction, engineering and Acciona.
Finally, at work, I regularly champion women and strive to form a community that builds up and supports the endeavours of women. In my position at the Southern Program Alliance (SPA) 2020-2021, I was on the Women at SPA committee, particularly looking at the transition between university/TAFE and industry and how we can engage with and attract more women.
I’m a staunch #STEMinist and will always advocate for other women – I don’t shy away from a conversation about feminist issues whether it be the gender pay gap, “meritocracy”, women in leadership or quotas vs targets.
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