A Man for All Seasons

Bureau of Meteorology

BSc (Mathematics) 2005

COUNTING clouds and playing with weather balloons characterises a typical work day for weather observer Shane Kmita.

The UQ Science (mathematics) graduate has been working for the Australian Government's Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) since 2006.

After a seven-month training course in Melbourne, Shane was posted to his current position at BOM's steamy Cairns headquarters.

In his work, Shane uses scientific instrumentation, electronic equipment, computers and radars to collect and record high-quality meteorological data for climate, forecasting and aviation purposes.

Among the most fun and fascinating instruments he uses is called a weather balloon, which carries a small, expendable measuring device called a radiosonde, to help gather information on atmospheric pressure, temperature and humidity.

"We release a weather balloon every six hours and make visual observations of the state of the sky," Shane says.

"Variety" is what he says he likes most about his work.

The atmosphere is constantly changing and every day is a bit different," Shane says.

"It is also rewarding to contribute a valuable service to the community."

Shane's position has seen him work in the north, north-west and far-north Queensland towns of Townsville, Mt Isa and Weipa – but he says the wind behind a meteorology career can blow a person in any direction that interests them most.

"This job would appeal to anyone who wanted to see more of Australia," he says.

"Postings can range from small outback towns to tropical islands, to stations in the Antarctic, to an office job in a capital city."

Shane says his qualifications in mathematics from UQ gave him an edge when looking to work at BOM.

"My maths major gave me the graduate qualities that my employer was looking for," he says.

Meanwhile, he says his degree improved his general "problem-solving and communication skills" – essential in life and any job.