Experience matters – Navy trains Engineers for future force

Published on CMDR Fenn Kemp (author), ABIS Kieran Dempsey (photographer)

Topic(s): Naval Engineering

Australian Public Service Marine Engineer, Keiren Muir (left) briefs Able Seaman Marine Technician Shaw McQueen before conducting maintenance on the seawater fire main system onboard HMAS Canberra. (photo: ABIS Kieren Whiteley)
Australian Public Service Marine Engineer, Keiren Muir (left) briefs Able Seaman Marine Technician Shaw McQueen before conducting maintenance on the seawater fire main system onboard HMAS Canberra.

Keiren Muir has become quite comfortable in hi-vis these days but he doesn’t wear a uniform. Even so, he is helping to shape Navy’s future force.

Keiren is one of 16 civilian engineers enrolled in the Civilian Engineer Development Program – an initiative designed to equip people with the critical technical skills and experience required to support Navy as a smart owner in the specification, manufacture, testing, assurance, upgrade, update and upkeep of its materiel assets. Run by the Naval Technical Bureau within Navy Engineering Division, the program operates in a similar way to the Defence Graduate program. Each successful applicant has either just graduated from an engineering degree or has spent time in private industry. The successful applicants are put through six 6-month rotations, exposing them to the full spread of Navy engineering areas and ideas. This includes technical bureaus inside and outside Navy.

Michael Gall is supervising Keiren and two other program participants with the Recoverability Cell. "This area is quite Navy specific," Michael says. "So the only way you can understand how we operate is to actually learn on the job."

Michael has been with Navy for the past ten years and says the program’s participants have all had one thing in common. "It’s all about the experience," he said. "Each of our grads comes away having benefited from the exposure and the challenge."

The Naval Technical Bureau is based in Canberra but it has branches in Sydney, Nowra and in Adelaide. Some members are also overseas. Its role is to provide specialist engineering support in the management of a wide range of key Navy engineering elements, including explosive ordinance, combat systems, propulsion, fire safety and high voltage equipment.

For more information on the CEDP see http://www.defence.gov.au/Graduates/pathway-engineering-naval.asp