Sound ad­vice from en­gi­neer

The Tatura Guardian - - People - By Tara Whitsed

En­gi­neer­ing has taken Martina Cu­sack all over the world — from Ire­land to Thailand, Su­dan to Afghanistan, Sri Lanka to Syd­ney and now Tatura.

Her jour­ney be­gan as a civil en­gi­neer and now she is the re­gional cus­tomer ser­vice man­ager and dams spon­sor at Goul­burnMur­ray Water.

Ms Cu­sack told her story to the next gen­er­a­tion at a panel of women in sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy, en­gi­neer­ing and maths (STEM) in Shep­par­ton last month.

The night, or­gan­ised by the Bet­ter To­gether Al­liance, was aimed at help­ing young women gain in­sight into STEM ca­reers and op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Stu­dents from McGuire College, Mooroopna Se­condary College, Shep­par­ton High School andWan­ganui Park Se­condary College at­tended the night.

Ms Cu­sack said it was im­por­tant for young women to feel en­cour­aged when go­ing into STEM fields.

‘‘For much of my ca­reer, I was the first fe­male en­gi­neer in the com­pany,’’ she said.

‘‘I worked twice as hard to prove my­self and gain re­spect and cred­i­bil­ity.

‘‘But this has changed, with many women now in­volved in STEM dis­ci­plines.

‘‘It’s about en­gag­ing women and show­ing them they can be part of STEM— I think it’s eas­ier now and I hope peo­ple like me have helped it get there.

‘‘The years work­ing out in the field and on con­struc­tion sites knocks the cor­ners off you and gives you great ex­pe­ri­ence.

‘‘It’s helped me a lot with work­ing with the guys in the field.’’

Ms Cu­sack grew up in Ire­land and re­alised en­gi­neer­ing would give her skills sought af­ter across the world.

‘‘I think it was a lit­tle bit of the rebel in me — I’m the first tech­ni­cal per­son in my fam­ily,’’ she said.

‘‘I al­ways loved maths and sci­ence; I didn’t have much time for lan­guage or the hu­man­i­ties at school.

I al­ways wanted to travel and hav­ing tech­ni­cal skills is a great way to travel the world.’’

Even­tu­ally, Ms Cu­sack moved to Syd­ney, where her sis­ter lives, and had a dream of work­ing in outback Aus­tralia.

She ended up in Shep­par­ton, but that ‘‘wasn’t quite outback enough’’.

‘‘I be­lieve cities are the same any­where in the world — what de­fines a coun­try is its cul­ture, and what ex­ists out­side the big cities,’’ she said.

Ms Cu­sack has been at G-MW for more than six years and trav­els across the Goul­burn-Murray ir­ri­ga­tion dis­trict, vis­it­ing the sites and meet­ing with staff, cus­tomers and stake­hold­ers.

She said it was an hon­our to speak at the Bet­ter To­gether Al­liance STEM night, and she hoped she in­spired the next gen­er­a­tion.

‘‘You will be what you want to be — if you want to be a doc­tor, an en­gi­neer, an as­tro­naut, a CEO or prime min­is­ter, you’ll get there,’’ she said.

‘‘Be cu­ri­ous and ask lots of ques­tions, be­lieve in your­self and take all op­por­tu­ni­ties. Most of all — love what you do.’’

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