About Kasandra Kennedy - Apprentice: Mechanical Engineering, Diesel Fitting
COMPLETED APPRENTICESHIP JUNE 2014
FINALIST IN QUEENSLAND TRAINING AWARD'S REGIONAL APPRENTICE OF THE YEAR 2014.
Kasandra Kennedy grew up in the Queensland Wide Bay area attending her final years of high school in Beerwah. When she first left school she did some work with her step-father who ran his own business in the building industry as a cornice fixer. Kasandra took to the work easily and enjoyed the experience of working on a building site and learning new skills.
Above: Sandy pictured with her favourite tool set.
From a very early age, I was always curious about how things worked. I had a particular curiosity about engines, and wanted to learn more. I tried in high school to push passed the stereotype barriers on what careers were considered suitable for a female, but I didn’t get very far.
After doing some work with my step-father when I first left school, we were working on fixing cornices in homes and units. I really enjoyed working with my hands. So when I started looking at my career options, for me something mechanical that I could use tools and my hands was an obvious choice.
Above: There are thousands of dollars worth of tools in Sandy's SPC Toolbox and she keeps them in mint condition.
But ultimately the Navy offered me the opportunity to follow my dream career so I applied to join the Navy and was taken on as a Marine Technician (9 months of training) and absolutely loved it. It was one of the first intakes where no trade qualification was offered. I worked on frigates and travelled throughout Australia, Guam, Hawaii, Tonga and Samoa.
After two years of service I decided that I enjoyed this type of work so much that I wanted to make it a full-time career and went in search of opportunities to undertake more study and get qualified.
Working on ships is a tight and constrained work environment, and I went looking for opportunity that offered the wide open spaces, country air and country people. I packed up my life, and moved to Roma.
As part of my 'get a job' strategy I called in to see GoldenWest Apprenticeships. They had an exceptionally good reputation locally and I just walked through the door and said I wanted to do a mechanical type apprenticeship. The rest is history. I was given every support and GoldenWest worked very hard to find a suitable Host Employer who would take me under their wing. I was interviewed and placed pretty quickly with Pumps and Solar and got my dream career. I am a diesel fitter.
Above: Sandy with her supervisor, Garry on the job at Pumps & Solar, Roma.
Pumps and Solar are a family owned business and well known in the Maranoa district for their quality products and service and their community involvement. They are a business that prides themselves of supporting local farmers and the community. They have been serving the community in and around Roma since 1996 with pumping, irrigation and reticulation systems, solar powered water pumps, stationary engines, generators and power equipment as well as manufacturing and fabrication works. Pictured here are the team as they raised funds for Cancer Council Queensland at the 2013 Relay for Life event in Roma.
Western Queensland is in drought at the moment and farmers are doing it very tough. It’s times like these when water, in particular, becomes very precious and keeping the communities pumps and water systems working is vital. This is a very busy time for our business and their commitment to the community includes support in a variety of ways including supporting young job-seekers where they can.
Pumps and Solar management team and supervisors foster a work environment that encourages innovation, and supports their values of integrity and high customer service.
I get to do a lot of jobs in the workshop and out on site, but the one I enjoy the most is engine rebuilds. Taking everything apart, cleaning the parts, finding out what needs replacing or fixing and putting it back together is a real passion. And when you put it back together and turn it on and everything works – that’s an amazing feeling, such a sense of achievement.
The support afforded me at my workplace is humbling. I feel privileged to be able to work with such a great group of people and with my supervisors who are extremely generous with sharing their time and teaching me new skills.
I was lucky enough to do well academically and was Sports Captain in primary school. I was in an accident just prior to starting high school and suffered third degree burns. I had two months in hospital and was in a pressure suit for two years. Surviving this type of accident teaches you to push through and learn to maintain a very positive attitude and not take life for granted. One of the things I learned was to follow my dreams and strive to always be the best I could be.
Above, from left: Colin Long, Operations Manager from Pumps & Solar Roma with Sandy and her supervisor Garry.
I believe that the training I have received has played an integral role in my success in my personal life and my career. I have set my career goals very high and I am determined to reach them. I have achieved everything I have gone after so far and it’s because my training has taught me so much.
On completion of my apprenticeship in just a couple of months I will enrol in university and gain a bachelor degree in mechanical engineering and then become a leader in the industry. I work very hard at my training as well as on-the-job and this is evidence by my ability to get through the training in record time and achieve the competencies I have achieved. My teachers will support my abilities. My TAFE Diesel Fitting teacher, Peter Robinson, supports my endeavours and has said that my skills, attention to detail and enthusiasm are first class.
Training is about discipline. Discipline of the mind and the emotions. It’s not possible to learn something if you can’t listen to and apply what is being taught. To this end the vocational education training system that supports apprentices is vital to our being able to learn a trade and become good technicians.
I found for me personally the TAFE blocks of learning were very important as I was allowed to literally have a go at fixing things without fear of the impact it would have on the customer. It’s a safe and nurturing environment where you are able to ask questions and apply what is being taught. Learning it and doing it – it’s a great way to get qualified.
Then back on-the-job it’s completely different because although the basics of my training are the same – this is a real job where we supply water. The tap you turn on in the morning to brush your teeth and wash your face or the farmer to supply water to drought affected stock. Water is life and whether or not the engine or pump gets fixed could have a huge impact on someone’s livelihood. It’s a huge responsibility but equally rewarding when you are able to make an engine or a pump work again.
I recommend this TAFE course to others at every opportunity. For anyone who loves a challenge – and women in particular – this line of work is not just for men. The skills you learn are applicable both at and outside of work. They are incredibly handy because the engineering industry can take you anywhere in the world.
I would also explain and demonstrate from my own experience that it isn’t hard to exist in a field that is currently predominantly male focused. I went through this in the navy and found that if you expect to be treated as an equal, if you apply your skills and are determined to become really good at what you do, you very quickly get treated as an equal.
I have had nothing but support from my colleagues at Pumps N Solar and they are always willing to work with me and just see me as being another skilled member of the team.
I will continue my studies through university and follow my dream to become a leader in my industry – and someday own my own business.
This opportunity is available to you - call today and speak to a Training & Employment Coordinator about your future career on 1300 650 775.