Career, Engineering, Lifestyle, Yvette

The Wagon Whisperer

Last week, I got to know my favourite Aurizon grad, Antonia Niaga, a little better by officially interviewing her.  It was lovely to listen to her describe her talents as “The Wagon Whisperer”, diagnosing problems with the “underbelly” of the train with guru-like ease, and to realise that we share a love of art.  Thanks, Antonia, for answering my questions and letting me subject you to a photo shoot!

Antonia (centre) with Sarah and I at the launch of A Hedy Journey


Where do you work and what do you do there?

I am a mechanical engineer working in a team called “Wheel Rail Interface & Brakes” which is really the underbelly of railway rolling stock. What I do varies from simulating trains to assessing train configurations and giving advice on their ability to hold.


What is your favourite thing about your job?

As a new engineer, the best thing about my job is the 6 month placements in different areas of the business related to mechanical engineering. I’ve gotten a broad feel for the business, developed the corresponding networks and have the experience to say what kind of work I’m interested in.


What did you study at uni and where?

I graduated my Bachelors of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Queensland in sunny Brisbane.


What is your biggest regret?

For someone who pledged to pursue a science based career and art based hobbies, I regret not indulging in those hobbies as frequently and thoroughly. Full time work seems to deplete my ability to focus until it’s easier to ‘veg-out’ and watch a show to relax than pick up a pen, paint brush or book.


Who has inspired you?

When I was at uni, I joined a number of Engineers Australia committees. My favourite was the Young Engineers who were made up of motivated diverse young engineering professionals. I especially enjoy engineering conferences for the hardworking interesting speakers


What decisions have led you to where you are?

In high school, I choose subjects which interested me, which included art, English extension, Physics, Chemistry and Japanese. Near the end of high school I decided to pursue the science side of my interests and keep the art side as a hobby. I refused to be a researching scientist and wanted a glamourous well-paying career. I aimed for Engineering at UQ and my second preferences was Photography.


What was the greatest moment in your professional life?

In my short career, from the victory dance of being accepted into an actual engineer role, the greatest professional moment has been getting my own engineering full project. I’ve grown as a graduate and have picked up tasks for various steps along the way so it’s gratifying to be let loose with the full process.


What is your favourite thing about yourself?

I adore the friendships I cultivate but for myself I cherish my intelligence and all the places my train of thought takes me. The highest compliment is to acknowledge me as a thinker.


What advice would you give your 16 year old self?

Hold on to curiosity, keep reading.


Where is your favourite place in the world?

The reading room State Library of Queensland has been a personal favourite since studying there, books with a view. Since moving into a house with a dedicated ‘library’ I’ve been working to make that my favourite place in the world.


What is the hardest decision you have ever had to make?

As an open minded person to a fault, any decisions about my concrete future has been difficult.


Why do you need feminism?

I need feminism because having children shouldn’t end my career and not having children shouldn’t make me less of a woman. I wish Women in Leadership conferences didn’t require a parenting tips segment.


What is at the top of your bucket list?

Top of the bucket list is to fill my passport with stamps for places I’ve never been – domestic travel doesn’t require stamps but I hope to also explore more of Australian than just the city I grew up in.


What would be the most effective items in your Eden Jar

If I had a physical jar “Practise calligraphy/play with inks”, “Read a new book”, “Write a letter and decorate it”, would all be highly effective. I’m part of a book club which has suggestions on post it notes in a similar jar that I like dipping into for the new book inspiration.


Where are you going from here?

From where I am as a graduate engineer, I hope to become a registered professional engineer. I’m learning more about my industry, attending conferences, applying for scholarships and hoping to inspire others to follow. I suppose I must also admit I’m assessing whether or not I want children.

Antonia and I attempt to go viral

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