Scott Munting - Electronics Technician

Scott Munting
Scott Munting

Who are you?

I'm Scott Munting, 27 years old and recently married. I live in Narrabri and work as an Electronics Technician at the Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA).

What does your job involve?

There are three or four electronics technicians normally based at the Compact Array and we all specialise in different areas. Our group has to keep all the electrical equipment that runs the telescopes operating smoothly. We have sensitive radio receivers that are cooled to I'm responsible for repairing and maintaining data communications. I check the fibre optic cables that connect each of the telescope antennas to the correlator that processes the digital data. Some of my time is spent designing and improving equipment so that our operations are more efficient. I've written software for specific uses such as Seemon, a recently installed seeing monitor antenna that checks the atmosphere above the telescopes.

How did you get started in electronics?

I grew up in Launceston, Tasmania. My Dad is a science teacher so I had a really supportive home environment and an interest in science form an early age. When I was about 12 I was a member of CSIRO's Double Helix Science Club. This was great as we got to hear lots of talks and get our hands on interesting equipment when visiting labs and the like. We did lots of practical activities and got opportunities to do interesting things. When I finished Year 12 I did a two-year full time Associate Diploma in Electrical Engineering at the TAFE in Launceston.

Where did you go from there?

After completing my diploma I was lucky enough to get a four-year trade apprenticeship as an Electronics Technician with CSIRO's Marine Research division in Hobart. I worked on marine electronics and instrumentation. As part of my job I spent time at sea on the research vessels Franklin and Southern Surveyor. Trying to work when sailing through the rough Southern Ocean whilst horribly sea sick was challenging! Once my apprenticeship was completed I had my Trade Certificate as an Electronics Technician.

Scott working on electronic components in the back-up test antenna rack.
Credit: CSIRO
Scott working on electronic components in the test antenna rack. This rack duplicates most of the electronics on each of the six antennas of the Compact Array. It allows the technicians to test new equipment and modify existing components before being installed on the operating telescope.

How did you get to work at Narrabri on the Compact Array?

As my apprenticeship in Hobart was coming to an end I saw an advert for the job in Narrabri. I loved working for CSIRO and was keen to stay in the organisation so applied for the position. Fortunately I got the job and moved up here in August 2004.

What are your highlights in working for CSIRO at the Compact Array?

You get to see some amazing science! I love helping out scientists so that they can make exciting discoveries. Since I've been in Narrabri I have had many opportunities to develop new skills and gain responsibilities. I'm now responsible for the new seeing monitor we designed and installed that monitors the atmosphere above the telescope antennas.

Are there any downsides to working at the Compact Array?

Yes, bugs of the insect rather than the software kind, and animals. I got bitten by a wasp just before Christmas. We also have to watch out for snakes when outside. Luckily the grass is kept short so they are easy to spot.

What's it like living in a town like Narrabri?

Narrabri is a really nice place to live. It is much affordable than a big city such as Sydney. People are friendly and there is a good social life though it would be nice to have few more shops.

What do you do when not at work?

Well, I tend to spend far too much time playing computer games. I've also just taken up water skiing which is a lot of fun. We go out to Yarrie Lake, not far from the observatory.

What are your future plans for work?

I definitely want to stay with CSIRO. I'm considering doing a degree in electrical engineering part-time in a few years time but nothing is definite yet.