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It's not every girl's dream to work with drainage pipes and sewage systems, but Kristy Preston isn't your average woman. 

While most people take flushing the toilet for granted, Kristy became fascinated with understanding what was happening behind the scenes after working on reception at a hydraulic engineering firm. Now she's found her dream job as a Hydraulic Services Design Engineer, designing innovative hydraulic solutions for commercial and residential properties.

"I was quite interested in how the drainage would get from the toilet and where would it go through from there. In the kitchen the water goes through to a grease arrester — that sounded quite interesting — the hot water unit, the water supply, and all the taps; I'd never thought about where it all came from. How it all works is very interesting to me," Kristy said. 

While it was an easy decision for Kristy to complete the Diploma of Hydraulic Services Design through TAFE Queensland, it wasn't an easy road to get to where she is today. She was already working full time and studying part time when she and her husband decided to start a family.  

"It was challenging balancing worklife, working full time, and also having having a toddler throughout that period of finishing my diploma. However TAFE Queensland made it very accommodating, they ensured they supported me along the way and got me to be the best I could be," she said. 

While Kristy's teachers commend her work ethic during her studies and describe her as a stand-out student, it's Kristy who can't speak highly enough of the TAFE Queensland teaching staff.

"In terms of asking for help from a teacher they were always there, sending a simple email or making a phone call, or even giving you a call on the weekend. I was very lucky to have a teacher come out one weekend and spend his time going through an assessment with me," she said. 

Despite her academic success, Kristy's challenges didn't stop once she finished her studies. Once she entered the industry it wasn't unusual for her to look around the room and be the only woman in a meeting. But as usual, Kristy took it all in her stride.

"It is very challenging working in male-dominated industry. However throughout my career it's also been very rewarding to look back and see how far I've come," she said.

It's obvious that Kristy loves everything about her job, but the thing that stands out for her was getting the qualifications she needed to become a licensed professional. 

"A highlight for me in terms of working as a hydraulic services engineer was getting my QBCC licence. This means that I can trade, do my own projects, and put my name down on the job to say that I designed it," she said.  

Her current role keeps her busy with time spent both in the office and on site creating the best hydraulic services design solutions for the varied projects she works on. It's a role that she gets great satisfaction from. 

"I'm very passionate in terms of seeing the end product — looking at the design that gets completed and then seeing the functional, working element is very rewarding," she said. 

Kristy admits that after years of hard work in the industry she's finally landed her dream job. But that hasn't stopped her from making even bigger plans for the future. 

"I've been working in the hydraulic services industry for 13 years, and within those 13 years I've started from the bottom and gone all the way to the top. My goal is to hopefully become one of the top design engineers in Queensland," she said. 

Her advice to other women looking to get into the industry? "If I can do it, you can too."

Honest and to the point, just like Kristy. 

From drainage workshops to construction sites - Kristy's story

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