STEM Careers

Christopher Madden

Systems Engineer
Metro Trains Melbourne

Metro Trains Melbourne is the operator of Melbourne’s rail network. They help millions of Melbournians get where they need to go as safely and efficiently as they can.

Chris Madden

Qualifications & Experience

  • Double degree in Engineering and IT at ANU
  • PhD in Video Surveillance
  • Robotics and Computer Vision applications
  • Video Analytics systems

Previous Industries

  • Academia/Education
  • Defence – Government
  • Public Transport

Top 5 Skills

  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Problem Solving
  • Report Writing
  • Precision Mathematics

Current Role

Describe your current role:

“As a Systems Engineer in MTM I help design the Safety and Security systems. These are for operating the new Stations and Tunnels as well as upgrading the existing stations to help the Melbourne Rail network operate safely and efficiently”

What makes you passionate or excites you about your role?

“There are two things that excite me the most about my role. The first is trying to update systems and bring in technologies to achieve something new that has never quite been fully realised before. The second is the great people that I work with. They are all dedicated to putting all the pieces together to make the Metro Tunnel Project operate successfully”

What would you look for in a potential candidate if you were hiring for your position?

“It takes considerable knowledge and practical experience to understand the capabilities of new systems that are yet to be demonstrated in practice. This is important as sometimes the sales pitch of what a product could possibly do might not quite fit with what is achievable in a rail environment. Experience in trialing products in the real world is therefore also key “

Christopher’s Pathway

 

How did you get where you are today?

“I have had a varied path to my current role. I studied Engineering and IT, got fascinated by robot sensors and did a PhD in Video Surveillance. After working as an academic in Australia and the UK, I worked at the Defence Science and Technology group as a researcher in various robotics and Computer Vision applications. Now I work at Metro Trains Melbourne on the security system upgrades, especially Video Analytics systems, that are occurring as part of the MetroTunnel Project”

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

“I have had many challenges over the years, but the biggest one that keeps arising is to understand what the client actually needs, not just what they want. Developing the technical expertise in an area can be relatively straightforward if time consuming. But to develop a truly useful solution to a problem you need to take time to understand the problem from many diverse viewpoints, often involving a few field trips to understand where the system really needs to operate. From here you can design a system that meets a client’s needs, not just what they think they want”

“Working at Defence and MTM have shown me how important it is to focus that interest on real world problems and to help improve people’s lives”

 

When did you first become interested in your current career / industry?

“Growing up on a farm I was interested in machines and what they could do to help people. Studying at ANU showed me how useful robotic machines can be when they can accurately sense and interact with their environment. It was here that I developed my interest in the most flexible sensor system, vision and video“

How did you obtain the key skills for your role?

Degrees and courses provide the foundations, but working in the field is key to developing those real world skills via experience.

“Even your dream job is going to have lots of challenges. Make sure you surround yourself with good supportive people to help you through those bits so you can celebrate with them in the good times”

The Future

 

How has your industry changed in the last 10 years?

“The transport industry is undergoing a significant modernisation of its technology. New materials and new technologies allow for the system to operate more efficiently and provide more information so passengers can also have an improved experience”

What kind of changes do you think will happen in your industry in the next 10 years?

“The increase in information about train and station services will make it easier for people to better understand and avoid peak transport times and have a nicer public transport experience”

Do you think your job description will change in the next 10 years?

“Engineering as a job description will become broader to acknowledge the importance of users in the design”

What type of work or industry would you like to explore in the future?

“Each industry has its own challenges, but I really enjoy the public transport industry because the projects have such an impact on improving everyone’s lives”

What advice would you give your 15 year old self?

“Following your dreams to find a really interesting job and working with good people means that you will enjoy the time you spend at work as well as the time you spend at home”