Find out about what industrial experience was like for some of our students.
Bachelor of Engineering (Chemical) and Bachelor of Science (Physics)
Delta Electricity, Vales Point Power Station
My placement at Delta Electricity was a steep learning curve and was quite different to any other job I'd had before. I learnt a lot about the science of power stations, as well as the business procedures necessary to get work done.
I could observe the roles of professional engineers, as well as the importance of being able to work in a large team.
While I was there I carried out lab analyses as well as safety walk throughs and audits of things such as the hydrogen plant, chemical control room, battery rooms and microfiltration plant. I was given my own project which involved researching and writing up a proposal for a new hydrogen plant, which was really interesting.
I initially found it challenging to learn the intricate details and processes of a power station, and how it works. There are so many different parts that all play a massively important role in its running, I doubt I will ever know them all!
It was good to see the relevance of what I was learning at uni, and how it is applied in Industry. It was beneficial to experience working in a large team of professional engineers and learn from their many years of experience as chemical engineers.
Since my initial industrial experience, I have been working one day a week at Delta and will do another internship with them this summer. This regular income supports me through the year and helps me to gain relevant work experience.
My advice to others looking for their placement is to apply everywhere, even if you think you have no hope! I didn't think that I would get summer work in my first year, but I still applied, and I ended up getting work experience with Delta.
It can be disheartening going along to the Careers and Work Experience Expo at uni and being told by almost everyone that they don't take first years, but if you don't apply, there's no chance of getting work.
The worst thing that can happen is that you don't get it, but by applying you still get your information out to possible future employers, who may remember you next time.
Bachelor of Engineering (Chemical)
Xstrata, Newlands Coal Mine
My industrial experience was at Newlands Coal Mine, Mackay, which is a fair way away in North Queensland.
It was furthest I had been from home to work, but I wasn't alone because I'm part of the Xstrata Coal Scholarship Program. There were about 10 of us in a similar boat and they were a great group of people to meet get along with. I was up there for a total of 12 weeks and am looking forward to going back up there in November this year.
During my experience, I was appointed as a process engineer. One of the things we do is maintaining plant efficiency and making sure everything's running smoothly. Our main job is in the washing process after they've mined the coal, turning what they dig up out of the ground into saleable, transportable coal.
There were high expectations of me while on placement. Xstrata gives you a lot of responsibility at a low level, I was put in charge of the technician team straight away. It was great to feel that they trusted you enough to give you this responsibility. While it was a challenge and overwhelming, you soon realise that you'll be given a lot more than you think you can handle and that you just need to work through it as best you can. I applied for my scholarship about half way through my second year after an Internet notification went around saying Xstrata were looking for applicants. My scholarship money helps to put me through university for the entire year, so I would urge everyone to take up an opportunity like this.
You can struggle to get vacation work if you leave it too late or wait until the deadline to hand in your application, so if anyone is looking to apply for a scholarship or vacation work, you really have to get in early. Deadlines don't really mean anything, they're the official cut off date but the company may have already interviewed and chosen someone before then.
Vacation work was beneficial to my degree and it allowed me to scope one of the many industries that I could enter on graduation. The possibilities are endless, you just need to get out there and try it.
Bachelor of Engineering (Chemical) and Bachelor of Science (Chemistry)
During my industrial experience at Tomago Aluminium, I worked in the Environment and Sustainability and the Continuous Improvement departments. I found the experience very interesting, especially as I had never worked on an industrial site before.
While I was in the environmental department I carried out a great deal of environmental monitoring. I was also posted in the cast house, where molten aluminium is cast and cooled to solid aluminium. While in the continuous development department, I worked on an ingot chain project. This involved checking the strapping quality of large bundles of ingots after the molten aluminium had been cast to ensure they were ready for transport by truck. While what I was doing wasn't directly related to chemical engineering, I still gained a lot of valuable experience.
Working in industry is not really like attending university, it's very different. Luckily there were lots of people who were very willing
help and give lots of advice if I needed assistance. The most enjoyable part was probably getting out on site, meeting different people and learning all about the different processes in use at Tomago Aluminium.
Completing my industrial experience helped me to realise that I want to do this type of work when Iâm finished, which is a relief. It gave me some validation that I was doing the right degree and also that I would enjoy working.
To apply for industrial experience, I sent out applications to all of the companies offering student experience at the University's Careers Expo. This process was very time consuming, especially because a lot of them asked the same questions, but I found that copying and pasting the answers helped.
After completing my experience, it will be a lot less daunting entering the work force as I know what to expect as well as the type of situations and environment I can work in.
It's important to embrace all of the challenges you face while doing your industrial experience. You might be asked to do a presentation or something new, but don't be too worried, as they know you are learning so you can't really go wrong.