Shepparton graduate plays part in building town’s future

By Madi Chwasta

Darcy Ryan is only two months into his career as a structural engineer, but is already busy working on the Shepparton Art Museum — arguably the biggest infrastructure project in town.

While the assignment is a dream come true, it is the sheer variety of the profession the 22-year-old from Kyabram enjoys the most.

“One day you’re doing the stair reinforcement at SAM, next a shed in Nathalia needs solar panels and you have to see whether the roof can take it,” he said.

“I’ve never done two jobs that are the same.”

An employee of Shepparton-based CAF Consulting, Mr Ryan completed work experience with the engineering firm while he was studying at La Trobe University in Bendigo.

He was hired shortly afterwards, and has since worked on the GV Health redevelopment and structures in Melbourne and Wangaratta — opportunities he said would not be available for a young engineer in a capital city.

“If I got into a company down in Melbourne, I’d be the bottom of the food chain,” he said.

“Here, I’m working directly under an engineer with 15 years’ experience, and getting information straight from the source.”

Reaching new heights: Darcy Ryan on the new Shepparton Art Museum rooftop.

Mr Ryan knew from a young age he wanted to study engineering, with the eventual goal to live and work in the Goulburn Valley.

He was one of the few at his high school who decided to remain in the region for higher study, choosing the Bachelor of Civil Engineering at La Trobe University’s Bendigo campus.

A fundamental component of Mr Ryan's degree was completing work experience, and motivated by the desire to work in Shepparton, he approached CAF Consulting.

“The Work Integrated Learning program ran through university, and they had big industry partners in Melbourne and Bendigo,” he said.

“I found CAF Consulting independent of the university; partly because it was close to home, but also because I heard good things.”

Expecting to be stuck in an office doing paperwork, Mr Ryan was surprised to find himself on site only days into his placement.

“By day three, I knew I made the right choice.”

CAF Consulting managing director Leigh Findlay said the company had taken on work experience university students for the past few years, with the intention of hiring them straight out of school if the fit was right.

He said training local talent was important for the company, as it allowed it to commit to large-scale projects in Shepparton.

“CAF wouldn’t be involved (in SAM) if there wasn’t local talent — otherwise a company from Melbourne would be the usual,” he said.

Mr Findlay, originally from Shepparton, said the firm had experienced leadership, which allowed management to take on young talent — he himself has worked for top-tier companies in capital cities and overseas, and CAF's senior structural engineer, Aaron Poole, has a similar depth of experience.

Mr Ryan said he was not only looking forward to expanding his knowledge under experienced direction, but was thrilled to take part in building Shepparton’s future.

“Lots of people don’t realise how big Shepparton is now, and how big it’s going to be,” he said.

“It’s an exciting time to be a civil engineer here.”