With an insatiable appetite for site-based engineering experience, determination, persistence, and a belief that opportunity doesn't knock but presents itself when you beat down the door, Civil Engineer Stephanie Sherritt has scripted her own path into the mining industry.
You can tell from Stephanie's unmistakable accent that she grew up in Canada. Living near the Rocky Mountains in Calgary for the first six years of her life, she moved to Brisbane in primary school. Brisbane provided her with exposure and opportunity to cultivate her engineering passion.
During school holidays in high school Stephanie attended science and physics camps at the University of Queensland.
"It's important for students to understand what jobs they can do with science and maths. Once I saw what was available it solidified what I could do with engineering," Stephanie says.
"At high school I had a physics teachers who encouraged me in this direction. One school excursion was to Dreamworld where we tested Newton's Second Law of motion, by wearing accelerometers on the Giant Drop."
"The benefit comes from getting kids into Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) early and showing them what STEM has to offer. It's not all about guys in lab coats and there are real world applications for maths and physics."
The real work came during university where Stephanie undertook vacation placements working on construction of a new wing of Brisbane's Wesley Hospital.
Stephanie's first taste of Mount Isa Mines (MIM) came in 2014, working for engineering firm Parsons Brinckerhoff, where she was contracted to MIM to undertake data collection.
"My job was to travel the 52 kilometer long mining lease from south to north verifying storm water plans with the actual infrastructure in place as part of the water project.
"The Transitional Environment Program (TEP) had been approved; however, the design work couldn't proceed until the drawings had been verified. My role was to ground-truth the maps, by trekking from the southern end of X41 to the northern end of George Fisher Mine. I gained valuable knowledge of the MIM site during this project."
The task was completed all too quickly and Stephanie returned to Brisbane where she found herself yearning for field work again. Despite a group of older colleagues encouraging her to stay in the city, she was determined to keep knocking on doors to find a way to get back into the field.
"I was continually expressing the desire for more field experience. I was telling anyone I could find that I wanted the opportunity, until I found someone who was going to help me achieve it."
"When I kept asking, things I never thought could possibly come my way, would just keep coming."
As you would imagine, she jumped at the opportunity when a consultancy position became available with Parsons Brinckerhoff as Project Engineer for MIM's $49 million Water Project, transitioning MIM's almost century-old mine site to compliance with new conditions under the Water Transitional Environmental Program (TEP).
The completion of this project in 2016 was a major milestone for the team, after five years of intensive environmental improvement works, 104 water structures including 49 new containment structures including ponds, dams and a block wall were constructed, with 26 kilometers of new pipeline installed on site.
During the project Stephanie moved across to work with the MIM Environment team on a fixed contract, continuing her work on the Water Project in-house.
In 2017 Stephanie came on board with MIM permanently as a Civil Engineer with the Zinc Processing team, working on structural and civil engineering projects.
"Currently I am undertaking structural refurbishment projects at both the Lead Smelter and the Lead Zinc Concentrator. We have nearly completed the replacement of a section of the top floor of the Sinter Plant which, made of concrete and at height, is a challenge."
"Other projects that I'm working on are focused on improving health and hygiene in the plant. We've been working on the Zinc Filter Plant hygiene project to seal the area with a concrete slab and other projects in the concentrator to install better drainage, with the goal of reducing the amount of dust and spillage in the work areas."
"These sorts of projects are what I particularly like about being a project engineer because I have the opportunity to solve problems, and put new technology and new products to the test, but I also love working in teams."
Stephanie's persistence in searching for field experience has paid off for her time and time again. She's learned that with determination, hard work, not taking 'no' for an answer and her passion for engineering, doors continue to be opened in the mining industry.