A recent graduate of EIT’s 52726WA – Advanced Diploma of Applied Electrical Engineering (Electrical Systems), Chris Fuller is an experienced Technical Officer who oversees quality of supply and metering at a local supply authority in Australia. Chris is an excellent example of continuing your studies whilst simultaneously collecting skills within industry to continue leveling up in an engineering-focused career.
Chris graduated from Cummins Area School in regional South Australia in 1996. He spent the following year as an exchange student in Denmark. The year after that, however, he set his eyes on moving back to Australia. He travelled to Adelaide in 1998 to commence a degree in Industrial Design. After a year he decided to change pathways and instead pursue a Certificate III in Engineering in Electrical/Electronics Trade, which he would graduate from in 2003.
Following his graduation, Chris performed contract work on multiple electrical projects in South Australia before heading to the United Kingdom. There, he was chasing a construction boom that was occurring due to an announcement that the Olympic Games would soon be hosted in London.
In 2008, he moved back to Australia, this time finding himself in the Northern Territory. He worked first as an electrical contractor but then as a project manager for a solar firm. He soon gained a position with a supply authority in 2011. At the supply authority, he was recognized as a Technical Specialist in electricity metering. Chris says it was his favourite role because the job provided a fantastic team environment in the most remote areas of Australia. He would often find himself inside a small aircraft with just a pilot and himself flying over Australia.
In 2018, he filled a new role as a Technical Officer Quality of Supply and Metering with a local electricity authority. It was in that role that he had contemplated furthering his formal engineering education. Hoping to remain employed and study at the same time, Chris found the perfect fit with EIT’s 52726WA – Advanced Diploma of Applied Electrical Engineering (Electrical Systems).
“I chose the Advanced Diploma to gain further engineering skills as an experienced trades-person working in electricity distribution, metering and power quality. I needed a course that would provide me with the skills and knowledge required to take the next step as an experienced technician requiring a better understanding of electricity distribution networks,” he said.
“This course has given me the insight into why I do what I do. I particularly gained a lot from the modules 'Electrical Power Distribution', 'Transformers', 'Earthing' and 'Power Quality”.
Chris’ short-term plan is to utilize some of the learning outcomes of his qualification and allow it to work to his advantage. However, he is not ruling out any further electrical studies. He reckons he will study something new in the near future. Chris says he is aware the pathway of career development and higher education he has followed is a unique one but shows that there are many ways to advance in the rewarding engineering world.
“The course has given me the further knowledge that I required to specialize in my quality of supply and metering role. I am able to understand technical power quality concerns, making sound decisions on locations of faults and rectification works required,” Chris said.
“If you prefer hands-on experience, then you can always start with a trade and continue with further education later on. I was somewhat reluctant to go back to study at 40 years of age whilst working full time, but I found it very rewarding and something I’d like to continue.”
His primary daily responsibilities are the coordination and successful delivery of the proactive and reactive quality of supply (QoS) investigations and processes and providing technical support to the metering team. He provides assistance and support to field staff and contractors performing network testing procedures and installation works. He also helps implement new technology into the workplace, running pilot programs for power quality monitoring, remote communication, and photovoltaic inverter power quality settings.
The technological leap forward
Chris is fascinated by the development of technology he sees in the electrical engineering industry. The tendency for internet-connected technologies and specific automation controls of the electrical world is becoming increasingly important. He notes that the arrival of the information age has led to a host of changes in the electricity distribution approach.
“This increase in visibility has happened rapidly, and I see information becoming more widespread to consumers in the near future. Working in electricity distribution, my role will continue to increase with the adoption of new technologies to provide power quality services for a rapidly growing number of "smarter" consumers,” Chris explains.
Those consumers, Chris says, are more technically aware of the electricity network and are better educated than ever before. “Their use of technology has enabled them real-time information regarding energy consumption and power quality by using applications from IoT technology such as inverters, UPS systems and smart meters,” he reckons.
Chris says the future of quality of supply standards is bright as the development of new electrical technologies continues to sprout up. He sees the line of work he works in becoming of even more importance in the industry. With new technologies comes new standards, and that is why there must be new and updated education to deal with these new standards. Equipped with his qualification, Chris wants to make his mark on the industry and bring what he has learned to the table.
“The engineering knowledge I have gained has really helped me to understand technical matters, and this is a real asset to myself and my employer. It also enables me to be more confident in technical discussions and put forward my opinions and ideas to gain better outcomes for our business,” Chris concludes.