Forensic science has an important place in manufacturing

Cassandra Barton works as a special gases laboratory team leader for BOC.

Forensic science can take people in all directions. Often a forensics occupation delves into many disciplines such as anthropology, ballistics, biology, chemical criminalistics, crime scene examination, document examination, toxicology, computer forensics and digital imaging. The Australia New Zealand Policing Advisory Agency categorises forensic science into four groups – field sciences, laboratory service, forensic medicine and digital evidence.

With so many exciting career opportunities, Cassandra Barton embarked on a forensics career more than a decade ago. When she began studying forensic science she imagined working with the police force, who scour crime scenes for clues related to a number of incidents many of us would not even imagine coming close to. However, after completing a Bachelor of Forensics at the University of Canberra, Barton soon realised the options were far more widespread than investigating blood-stained garments and fingerprints on weapons. Eleven years ago she became a laboratory technician for BOC – a gas and welding equipment manufacturer.

“BOC is different to the job I imagined, but I really enjoy it. I started as a laboratory technician fresh out of university. About six months later I was moved up to a chemist position. Then about 18 months after that I was moved into a co-ordinator role.”

In 2015, Barton became a special gases laboratory team leader and she said the variety and growth opportunities that have come her way drive her to continue in a role she never predicted to be in after studying forensics science.

“Forensics has always taken my interest but it’s a pretty difficult field to get into. To get a job straight out of university is tough. Although it’s a growing industry, when I finished in 2008 there were limited jobs,” she said.

Transitioning to the workforce

Barton said workplace environments and the skills required to do a job are different to what students are taught at university. Barton experienced this herself when transitioning to the workforce, and as a team leader she is experiencing it again through her staff.

“We are quite a young team and a new team. I’m the oldest and I’m only 32. About 70 per cent of the team has been with the company for a year or less.

“Because it’s most people’s first role out of university, they are very keen to learn and ready for anything. But, they realise working life is a bit different to university life and getting used to that can be a challenge. It’s about making sure they see the overall picture. It’s also learning that we are working for our customers and knowing it’s not just about the science,” she said.

Boosting opportunities

With BOC Australia’s customers base growing, the company opened a new $20 million specialty gases production facility at its Sydney Operations Centre in Wetherill Park. At the time of the facility opening, in early 2018, BOC South Pacific managing director John Evans said the new specialty gases facility will increase BOC’s capacity to locally produce and supply more than 8,000 high purity and specialty gases to many high value industries in Australia, such as manufacturing and energy exports.

“With leading-edge laboratory technology and a highly experienced team of chemists, the new facility offers the best in quality, precision and safety – allowing BOC to supply many scientific and calibration gases in almost half the time and at higher packaging pressures,” said Evans.

Barton has been there through the development of the facility and she continues to work on getting the facility up to speed. “We lost about 50 per cent of our space so making sure business kept going was a challenge.”

She manages all the incoming work to the special gases facility and ensures the laboratory has all the technical support it needs. “One of my goals is still to get this facility up to where it should be.” Barton plans to continue maximising the use of the new facility adding to her 11-year tenure at BOC.

Barton was a finalist for the Excellence in Manufacturing award at the Women in Industry Awards 2018. Nominations for Women in Industry 2019 are now open. To nominate someone that you think should be recognised for their work, go to www.womeninindustry.com.au.

The categories for the 2019 awards, held on June 6 in Melbourne, are:

Social Leader of the Year – This category recognises those individuals who have significantly affected positive change within their local or regional community.

Rising Start of the Year – Recognition for individuals who show significant promise within their chosen industry or who have reached new goals at the start of their career.

Business Development Manager of the Year – This category seeks out business development managers who have created new growth opportunities that allowed their organisation to expand and generate greater revenue.

Industry Advocacy Award – Recognition of individuals who have helped shape a positive view of their industry and/or helped to create a policy change which benefits those working in the sector.

Safety Advocacy Award – Safety is of utmost concern and this category highlights those individuals working actively to improve safety for their industry.

Mentor of the Year – This category recognises those individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to developing female talent within their organisation and wider industry.

Excellence in Manufacturing – This category recognises an individual who has thought “outside the box” to implement an outstanding personal contribution to their manufacturing business and the wider manufacturing community.

Excellence in Mining – This category recognises individuals who have made a positive contribution to one of the many facets of the mining industry.

Excellence in Engineering – This award recognises an individual who has shown leadership in engineering, technological excellence and innovation.

Excellence in Road Transport – This category recognises an individual who has gone above and beyond to improve and positively impact the Australian road transport industry.