Mat Kennedy always knew he wanted a career in Defence, however it wasn’t until joining Naval Group Australia that the IT Support Officer saw an opportunity and a pathway back to continuing his passion for engineering.
Mat’s story began at 18 when he joined the Navy and started his training to become a Marine Engineering Officer. During his time in the Navy he gained experience “at sea” with exposure to ships and submarines and was able to partake in engineering specific training with a period in the dry-dock.
Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, Mat’s time in the Navy came to an end after four years of service and his lifelong ambition was put on hold.
Due to having a Defence clearance, he found a job in IT and spent the next eight years in Government and other Defence Industry organisations until he joined Naval Group Australia as an IT Support Officer in October 2017.
“It wasn’t until I got interviewed for the role at Naval Group Australia that I saw a real pathway back to becoming an engineer,” he said.
From day one on the Future Submarine Program, he made it clear that he wanted to continue his engineering degree, a degree he self-funds, while working full-time in the IT team.
“The company made it clear that they would support staff to realise their dreams, however I knew that working full time and studying part time with a wife and three kids was going to be a challenge. That wasn’t going to stop me though; my dream was to become an engineer.
Mat then discovered that Deakin University had cloud learning for engineering degrees and he was able to continue on the path learning online, out of hours with some very late nights and many weekends sacrificed along the way.
“The business was very helpful and supported my study leave and travel to take part in the intensive study weeks where we did the compulsory lab work and projects on campus. The practical nature of this time on campus was especially valuable.”
The support didn’t stop there as the next requirement for Mat’s degree was to do a formal three month placement on the job. Naturally, Mat wanted to do this with Naval Group Australia and with the support of HR, IT and Engineering teams, Mat started his three month placement as an Intern Fluid Technician in April 2020.
The internship was planned meticulously and work was allocated at the correct level for Mat to develop his skills and become fully integrated into the Fluid (Mechanical) Engineering team during this time.
Once his internship was complete in July 2020, Mat transitioned back into his IT Support Officer role with the ambition to rejoin the Engineering team on the completion of his degree and if the relevant role is available.
“Overall my internship with the Fluid team was a very rewarding experience and for the first time I could practically see how I would fit into an engineering role and team. Even though I am back in my IT role, I will continue learning about the conformity to standards and the engineering processes required for registration of parts that will be used in the future.”
In 2021 it will be Mat’s fourth and final year of study. He has couple of subjects to complete and then he will be onto his final Engineering Project to round out his Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering.
Mat’s passion and dedication to his work and study enabled Naval Group Australia to support him throughout this process and highlights to anyone involved with the Future Submarine Program that if you want something enough, a bit of dedication and commitment can open many different pathways for future career opportunities.