In 2021, Kurt Charlton was awarded the WASM Alumni Gold Medal. The medal is presented to a WASM:MECE graduating student who not only achieves academic excellence, but demonstrates community involvement and industry engagement.

Kurt exemplified everything WASMA was looking for in a recipient. During his studies in Chemical Engineering and Finance, Kurt gained experience producing ammonia in the Pilbara, refining crude oil in a refinery in Melbourne, researching a chemical which has uses in cancer treatment, staying with rural families in Cambodia, working with students on the autism spectrum and much more.

A year since graduating, Kurt says he has done a lot of learning as he’s navigated his way through a new career as a Process Engineer with Clough. He has also maintained his links to his community work, staying involved with Youth Outreach in regional WA.

“In my first year I have worked in a variety of teams, some where the people closest to my level were 10-11 years my senior,” he explained. “So, I have had to learn quickly to get up to speed.”

During the past year, Kurt has also spent six months as an intern with Clough client Inpex, providing him with variety in his experience.

Enjoying the sunset in Laverton

“I have enjoyed getting to expand some of my existing technical skills, like process modelling, as well as learning new skills and processes, like pressure relieving, depressuring and process safety time calculations,” he said.

“It’s also been interesting working with senior staff, and understanding the hierarchy and quality assurance processes, which was all new to me.”

Kurt said one of his biggest learnings has been that there can be as much focus on non-technical work as there is on technical work, and that it is important to work closely with clients and to manage his time.

Time management skills have come in handy as Kurt has juggled his involvement with Youth Outreach in regional areas. Through his voluntary work with Engineers Without Borders, Kurt took part in a trip to the South West where 13 volunteers worked with 1500 students over the course of a week to provide STEM based learning activities.

Kurt with students at Wiluna Remote Community School

He was also part of a trip to the Goldfields, to work with 221 students, including students at remote communities.

“It has been really rewarding work,” he said. “Particularly working in remote communities.”

The team is now working towards another program to the South West this June, which aims to be bigger than last year’s. However, work commitments mean that Kurt won’t be able to take part in all programs.

In terms of advice for other students, Kurt recommended gaining a variety of experience during University studies. “One thing that I wanted to do while I was at Uni was both operator and consulting internships,” he said. “This would have given me more experience coming into this work, but I didn’t have time to do both.”

Author: WASMA

The history of the Western Australian School of Mines Alumni (WASMA) reflects the ups and downs of the Western Australian School of Mines (WASM) and the role it has played in supporting graduates in a range of activities and events. It also describes the important role that graduates have played in ensuring WASM remains in Kalgoorlie. Learn more.