General Manager Major Projects
Rebecca Mills is the General Manager Major Projects with Territory Generation, based in Darwin, and holds Bachelor degrees in Engineering (Mechanical and Aerospace) and Economics from the University of Adelaide. Rebecca is responsible for the recent delivery of the Owen Springs and Tennant Creek gas fired power station expansions and the NT’s first grid connected battery energy storage project in Alice Springs. Rebecca was awarded Young Professional Engineer of the Year for the Northern Division in 2016, and is a volunteer on the Women in Engineering Northern Committee.
How long have you been a member of Engineers Australia?
Since 2007 when I joined as a student member.
Why did you pursue a career in engineering?
I grew up on a sheep station in country South Australia, and was always curious about how things worked out there, including the small wind turbine that went up next to our house in the early 90s. I had a great opportunity during high school to participate in an industry innovation project. Combine that with a love of science and maths at school, engineering seemed like the perfect fit!
How can Australian communities/people/society benefit from your work now and in the future?
My team are working on investigating and delivering ideas and technologies which will help to improve the efficiency of traditional electricity generation and support the Northern Territories transition to renewables.
We are looking to provide more efficient and reliable solutions with a focus on sustainability, to better serve the communities in which we operate in the long term and help to progress the pathways for new technologies.
What is the most challenging or interesting project you’ve ever worked on?
The Alice Springs Battery Energy Storage (BESS) Project. This project integrated a large (proportional to the grid size) new technology with a grid which is undergoing a dramatic transition and faces a number of significant challenges.
The concept is to demonstrate the capability of this technology to improve the efficiency of traditional generation on a grid with high penetration solar, particularly behind the meter. Being the first grid-connected BESS in the NT regulated systems has been a learning experience for all involved.
What do you see as one of the biggest issues facing the engineering profession?
I think that with the technology changing much faster than the standards, engineers have the challenge of ensuring we maintain the core of the profession – being the safety and quality of the products we deliver for the community.
What excites you about the future of the profession or what opportunities do you see for the future?
The increased focus on sustainability, in the broadest sense of the definition, is both an opportunity and a challenge for the engineering industry. There are problems to be solved across the spectrum and engineering will form a key part of the formulation of solutions.
Who is your engineering hero?
Jim White, who was a close family friend and one of my early inspirations for studying engineering. Jim was an innovative thinker with a great mind for business as well, and a champion for diversity in engineering.
Image: courtesy of Rebecca Mills