Faculty of
Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology

Ruth Tromp

  • Describe your role and the main work activities day to day?

    As a Graduate Process Engineer, I deal specifically with the treatment and operation of the Luggage Point Sewage Treatment Plant, the largest water utility in Queensland.

    Working alongside the Process Control and Efficiency Team, we develop and implement process optimisation initiatives that improve plant performance. This is measured in terms of the quality of effluent we discharge, the energy we consume, the carbon footprint we generate and the cost of our operations.

    On a typical day, I am responsible for monitoring effluent quality to ensure licence compliance is met. This involves ongoing partnership with operators, plant managers and engineers to detect anomalies and fine-tune control systems.

    Currently, we dose ethanol to improve biological treatment. I am in the midst of preparing and rolling-out a trial plan that will help evaluate the effectiveness of ethanol and better inform operators and engineers on the optimal dosing rate that will reduce operational cost and plant dependence on external chemical sources.

    Other daily tasks include analysing data and projecting plant performance to make necessary decisions for achieving short and long term operational, environmental and monetary objectives.

  • What do you enjoy most about your current role?

    Working with a proactive, supportive and inclusive team makes a world of difference.

    An environment where you feel comfortable and encouraged to ask questions, challenge people’s decisions in a respectful manner, and take initiative to lead projects and organise meetings has helped me to grow in confidence, and has improved my professionalism as an engineer. At QUU, I have enjoyed working with and learning from people with different discipline backgrounds and perspectives, and being encouraged to explore new, innovative approaches in doing business more efficiently. 

  • Why did you select this particular career path?

    I had the opportunity to complete my six-month Master’s placement with QUU and walked away with a wealth of knowledge and a greater interest in the wastewater industry.

    By having an awareness of the work involved, I’ve been impressed and personally influenced by QUU’s notion to become a more sustainable and carbon-neutral corporation. Their efforts in protecting the environment, putting customers first, and creating a good working culture for employees has translated into the work that process engineers carry out. Contributing towards this vision through process optimisation was a very rewarding experience. 

  • What was the hiring process to get your current job?

    This is the first year that QUU has offered a graduate program and the response from graduates was overwhelming with over 400 applicants. The first stage involved online psychometric testing to measure our cognitive capabilities and behavioural style, from which only 40 students were selected and taken through to the second stage: the assessment center.

    This stage was designed to assess our ability to work in a group setting. We were broken into groups and taken through a range of case studies where we had to exercise collaboration, teamwork, participation, problem solving and communication. From here, roughly a dozen students were selected and taken through an interview process where only six were chosen as the final graduates for the company. 

  • What did you do to develop your employability during your studies?

    Disclaimer! Choosing to do a Master’s degree improved my employability far more than enduring countless online practise psychometric tests.

    We were given ample opportunity to learn and apply many interpersonal, technical and organisational skills that I believe moulded me into the employee that QUU and so many companies were (and are) hunting for.

    My BE/ME placement with QUU was organised by the EAIT Student Employability Team. Working for QUU as an intern and carrying out team-based projects during my course-work made me realise that employability does not rest solely on a single-digit GPA. Through the guidance of lecturers, career advisers and staff within QUU, I was reminded of how important it is to be of service to others; to be open and show initiative; to be approachable and receptive to instruction; to work with a positive attitude and view failure as a step towards future growth. On top of this, my Master’s degree tested me mentally and physically. Organising my time was pivotal to achieve the deadlines. Technical skills required perseverance, practise and very often, guidance from the more experienced. I look back and can safely say that committing to a Master’s degree was the stepping stone for developing my employability.

  • Have there been any pivotal moments/ choices during your studies/career that have had an impact on your success?

    I believe my success in employment was a combination of choices I made during and outside university. A pivotal moment was choosing to do a Master’s degree. It was a big risk to commit to another year of study but the benefit of graduating with six months’ work experience was enough to convince me. Studying did involve many sacrifices, hard decisions and self-motivation but it also came with life-long rewards.  

    Studying abroad in Wisconsin, USA for six months helped improve my ability to adapt to different environments, to be personable and respectful. I also gained a greater appreciation of the support that UQ provides and the excellence of our lecturers and tutors. Outside of university, joining sporting teams, social organisations and being involved in my Christian community grounded me as a person and was often a breath of fresh air when study was all too consuming.   

  • Have there been any pivotal moments/ choices during your studies/career that have had an impact on your success?

    I believe my success in employment was a combination of choices I made during and outside university. A pivotal moment was choosing to do a Master’s degree. It was a big risk to commit to another year of study but the benefit of graduating with six months’ work experience was enough to convince me. Studying did involve many sacrifices, hard decisions and self-motivation but it also came with life-long rewards.  

    Studying abroad in Wisconsin, USA for six months helped improve my ability to adapt to different environments, to be personable and respectful. I also gained a greater appreciation of the support that UQ provides and the excellence of our lecturers and tutors. Outside of university, joining sporting teams, social organisations and being involved in my Christian community grounded me as a person and was often a breath of fresh air when study was all too consuming. 

  • What are your career plans for the future?

    At present, I am thoroughly enjoying the water industry and whether I remain in operations or pursue consultancy, I hope to continue ‘enriching the quality of life’ and work towards a more sustainable future in all aspects of my career. 

  • What advice do you have for UQ students who may be looking to follow this career path?

    Be open-minded. When you enter the workforce, you may start from the bottom, not because you are of lesser value as an individual but because they want to cultivate you into a person who sees challenges as opportunities and who is eager to learn. I also encourage you to give everything a go. You may have this concrete idea on what a job may entail but until you try it, you may miss the enjoyment, friendships and/or skills that you could gain. Who knows – wastewater may be up your alley!

    Lastly, don’t feel dejected if you’ve been struggling to find a job. Continue to check the EAIT Employability Facebook page and don’t be afraid to ask the EAIT Employability team for help on improving your resume or practising for your interview. Let your character shine. 

Professional Spotlight
Ruth Tromp

Current role: 
Graduate Process Engineer
Queensland Urban Utilities


Educational background: 
Bachelor of Engineering (Hons)/Master of Engineering (Chemical Engineering), The University of Queensland

Field of Study: 
Chemical Engineering

Company Profile

Queensland Urban Utilities
Queensland Urban Utilities (QUU) is a statutory body that delivers drinking water, recycled water and sewerage services to over 1.4 million customers across the Brisbane, Ipswich, Lockyer Valley, the Scenic Rim and Somerset district.