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West is the best, Paula West that is!
The Australian mining and resources industry attracts some of the brightest minds from around the world so it is no small feat that Senior Mechanical Engineer Paula West from Alcoa’s Kwinana refinery in Western Australia has taken out two acclaimed industry awards this year.
Paula, an Alcoa employee since 2005, was awarded Young Mechanical Engineer of the Year by Engineers Australia in June and Mining Woman of the Year at the Australian Mining Prospect Awards in November.
Both awards recognise outstanding achievement, contribution to engineering and resources professions and commitment to tomorrow’s leaders through education, advisory and volunteering roles.
Paula graduated from Curtin University of Technology in 2003 with a Bachelor of Mechatronic Engineering. She commenced work at Alcoa’s Kwinana refinery as a Graduate Mechanical Engineer and over the next decade forged a successful career, rising to the ranks of Senior Mechanical Engineer for calcination and shipping in 2011.
“Paula’s achievements to date have simply been outstanding,” said Kwinana Refinery Manager Tim Maclean.
“Engineering as a profession and Alcoa’s workplace have traditionally been male dominated but through concerted efforts designed to encourage more female participation we are seeing more women in senior positions successfully leading teams, predominantly of males, and making the work environment richer and more diverse,” said Tim.
Never one to rest on her laurels Paula is also a champion for women. She has coordinated Alcoa’s Future Women of Industry Scholarship Program at Kwinana and is a site lead for the Alcoa Women’s Network, a global association commitment to the development, advancement and retention of women leaders in Alcoa.
Paula also actively volunteers as the Deputy Chairperson and Women in Engineering representative on Engineers Australia’s Board of the College of Mechanical Engineers. She is a committee member of Engineers Australia’s Peel Regional Committee too.
Paula’s most important achievement though is via her commitment to educating and inspiring the next generation of engineers. Paula has played a key role in coordinating Engineers Australia’s national Science and Engineering Challenge for year nine students; has been a project reviewer for their EngQuest competition; and has inspired students to take up engineering as a profession via the Ambassador Program which sees graduates visit high schools to highlight engineering as a career.
For Paula it is all in a day’s work however she was humbled by the award wins. “It is such an honour to be recognised in this way for my engineering and volunteer work which helps to foster the next generation of engineers,” she said.
To find out more about engineering opportunities visit Engineers Australia’s website.

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Congratulating Paula on her outstanding achievements is Tim Maclean, Kwinana Refinery Manager.