Alan Grant was 25 when he first joined UOW working casually for six weeks in facilities management. Thirty-five years later he retired last month, after being a pinnacle figure in the School of Civil, Mining and Environmental Engineering in October, 1984, where he was responsible for looking after lab and workshop classes, undergraduate thesis projects, building test rigs and recording all data.

Back then, the majority of civil engineering student were at undergraduate level, with only a handful of postgraduates. Alan reminisces fondly on this time and laughingly says that he “didn’t know what busy was back then”, having witnessed the steady rise of both domestic and international student numbers within the School.

Alan credits his enjoyment in the role to working with a diverse range of students and having to adjust his teaching style to suit their needs. “Our culture here is patience with our students, because we know they are under pressure to adapt to this new learning environment.”

Whilst opportunities have been presented throughout the course of Alan’s career, he believes that the broad work in engineering, UOW’s workplace culture and support from colleagues have been the overarching factors behind his 35-year career at UOW.

“I’ve worked in industry outside of UOW and realise how good the environment is here. That’s not to say we work less – we probably work harder – but the support we receive and the collegiality makes it all worth it.”

Alan transitioned to a Lab Coordinator in the early 2000’s before being appointed as Lab Manager in 2009. During this time, he has most valued the camaraderie between technical staff and the collaboration between his team and the EIS academic staff. He notes his biggest achievement as being the implementation of the Russell Vale projects, which he’s worked on for the last five years.

Faculty of EIS Operations Manager Ron Marshall says that Alan has been instrumental in the largest projects that EIS technical staff have ever been involved with, including the design and project management of the Russell Vale National High Speed Rail test facility, the National Blast Simulation facility and manufacturing other complex research apparatus.

Ron adds “During Alan’s time as Civil, Mining and Environmental Engineering Lab Manager, his calming and approachable style has been key to the successful supervision and mentoring of staff and students. Alan’s methodical approach to solving engineering problems has helped many students and academics with their research, many of whom have gone on to stellar careers throughout the world.”