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CEED Graduate landed the job of a lifetime...

Alan Stapelberg is a Product Leader for the Robot Automation business of ABB in Shanghai, China. This prestigious title didn’t come by chance; Alan studied a Bachelor of Engineering (Infomechatronics) at QUT (Queensland University of Technology), completed a CEED project with Australia Post; and along the way developed skills beyond pure academic aptitude.  According to Alan, he also developed his ‘soft’ skills such as communication, business professionalism, and real life project planning and management.

 L to R: Dr M-Iyer (QUT), David Cullen (Australia Post), Alan
 Stapelberg (CEED student - 2006), Jadd Brammall (Australia

In Alan’s last year of study (2006), he decided to apply for a CEED project to give him better industry knowledge and experience, making the transition from study to work less intimidating. Alan was selected for a CEED project with Australia Post, to work on a project which reduced the downtime of one of Australia Post’s high-speed automated mail sorting machine.

His project aimed to analyse and ‘tweak’ the Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) which acts as a brain to the mail sorting machine, and identifies the trigger of error messages.  The project was focused on the Cartridge to Tray Unloading Module (CTUM), which was one of the more complex modules of the overall machine.

During his CEED project, Alan reverse engineered the PLC code to understand the logic behind the program. A detailed explanation of the trigger conditions of the error messages was then documented. At the same time, a correction to the PLC code was made. This resulted in improved problem solving ability for the Australia Post technicians. On completion of Alan’s project, it was estimated to save Australia Post $16,000 per annum of unnecessary machine downtime.

 Alan visiting the Great Wall of China - just one of his adventures

Upon graduation (2007), Alan was recruited into the two year ABB Australia Graduate Program. During this time, Alan rotated through a couple of different divisions of ABB which gave him excellent exposure to a variety of engineering disciplines: Distribution Transformers, Robotics, Process Analytics, Power Systems, Process Automation and Human Resources. Alan’s experience included flying off-shore on the oil platforms in the Bass Strait, overseas assignments with ABB in China, and working on site for the construction of a switching station in the red dust of the Pilbara. 

In each rotation, Alan learnt different business skills while at the same time gave back value to each division through the outcome of each project. At the end of the program, Alan was offered a number of different job opportunities in the divisions where he had worked. He chose the Robotics division in China as this would develop his international exposure and cross cultural skills.

Alan Stapelberg.visiting ABB's Sweden office 

 Alan on a visit to ABB's Sweden office


Some of Alan’s responsibilities as a Product Leader for ABB are for the industrialisation of a series of products developed specifically for the Body-In-White (BIW) industry. BIW focuses on all activities related to the production of a vehicle body before it goes into the paint shop. This business builds complete body-shop assembly lines for automotive companies around the world.  The products utilise the latest robotic technology allowing for flexible automotive manufacturing lines.

Alan’s role extends across a variety of disciplines from solving technical problems, implementing business processes for mass production, to front end sales for the Asia Pacific region.

For the next two years, Alan plans to continue the business development of the BIW products, while at the same time developing his management skills. After that, he’s open to all opportunities that present themselves with ABB, including working in other countries, or returning to Australia.

Alan said, “Ultimately my objective is to become a respected engineer and manager in my chosen area of Engineering.  The industry project with CEED was a valuable complement to my resume and I believe contributed to being selected to join the ABB graduate program.”

The future looks bright for this young Engineer.  CEED looks forward to keeping a track of Alan's career and successes.

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