Alan Grant was 25 when he first joined UOW working casually for six weeks in facilities management. Thirty-five years later he will be retiring this week, after being a pinnacle figure in the school of Civil, Mining and Environmental Engineering.

After his casual role, Alan found more work in mechanical engineering, before joining the civil engineering team in October, 1984. Here Alan was looking after the lab classes, undergraduate thesis projects, building test rips and recording all data.

Back then, the civil engineering student makeup consisted mostly of undergraduate students, with 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 his role to working with a diverse array of students and having to adjust his teaching style to suit their needs. “Our culture here is patient with our students, because we know they are under pressure in this new world.”

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 have been the overarching factors behind his 35 year career at UOW.

“I’ve worked in the 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 receiving a management position as Lab Manager in 2009. During this time, he most valued the comradery between the technical staff and the collaboration between his team and the EIS academics, which he believes has evolved since the early days. He notes his biggest achievement as being the Russell Vale projects, which he’s worked on for the last five years.

Engineering colleague 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 the manufacture of 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 in the successful supervision and mentoring of staff and students. Alan also has a methodical approach to solving engineering problems that has helped many students and academics with their research, many of whom have gone on to stellar careers throughout the world.”

During his retirement Alan will continue to be involved with the Russell Vale blast simulator. However, he says he will still have time for a cycle, a coffee, travelling and maybe some furniture making. Where will he spend the rest of his time? Trailing in the wake of his two beloved grandchildren.