We sat down with Tamara Vasey, who shares with Seekers Space her journey from UWA Engineering student to Research Lead in the Smart Mining team at Rio Tinto.
Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. Firstly, since graduating from your Engineering degree, can you give us an overview of your career journey?
After graduating, I continued my studies with a PhD in Microelectronics – a great decision as I learnt a lot about myself, gained experimental skills for my future career and got to travel the world presenting at conferences and meeting people.
I then moved into industry at MRX Technologies, a local engineering company doing some amazing work. When I joined they were extending a successful pilot into a full scale development of an autonomous driving capacity for BHP’s heavy haul rail trains. I joined the software team, quickly developing a new love for software and putting together algorithms for location and object detection.
You now work at Rio Tinto as part of the teams working on their Smart Mining initiative, which is a fascinating part of the technology meets mining space - can you tell us about your role there?
Yes, I now work at Rio Tinto as a Research Lead in their mine automation group (Smart Mining). We are using technology and the huge amounts of data we can gather from our processes to improve operational efficiency in ways that have never been possible before.
For example, we use algorithms and software to build a live digital twin of their mines in a scalable and principled way. As a research lead, my job is to be across all the projects we have going on.
So what does your day-to-day look like?
Look, it’s a very varied workload. Some days, I might spend most of my time reviewing data analysis reports or discussing the latest algorithm we are working on. Other days may be coding or creating new innovations. On others, I may be using PowerPoint to communicating our goals to stakeholders, planning new opportunities and scheduling updates.
I spend a lot of my time talking with lot of different people to brainstorm our new ideas because this adds to the ever growing list of possible ways to improve in the future! Smart Mining is a great job in a challenging, but exciting, industry. The mining business is high stakes and we are full of big problems, big data, big dollars, but when we get it right, it is matched by the big impact!
What are some of the most useful and memorable things you've taken away from your study at UWA?
The knowledge and problem solving skills that I gained during my degree have been invaluable - I use them every day! In terms of my fondest memories, the campus and the people at UWA make it such a beautiful and inspiring place, which totally influences your outlook on what is possible! I learned to dream big at UWA!
But most importantly, I found my tribe at UWA and I got to enjoy the company of fellow engineers with can-do attitudes and creative outlooks on life!