Kick-starting students' engineering future
Wollongong City Council is welcoming a record number of civil engineering interns from the University of Wollongong this summer.
The 10 undergraduates are the latest crop of students to be selected through a long-standing collaboration between Council and the University. Each year, the partnership provides up to 10 civil engineering students who have completed 3 out of 4 years of their course with the opportunity to gain the 12 weeks professional work experience they require as part of their degree.
Wollongong City Lord Mayor Councillor Gordon Bradbery AM said that the program is an invaluable experience for student civil engineers to get an understanding of how they can apply their practical knowledge and studies within a workplace.
“These students are not here to photocopy and make coffees – they’re here on a genuine learning experience and have an opportunity to work with some of Council’s highly-skilled and trained engineers and get real-life experience of the diverse challenges we meet across our city, from the mountains to the sea and in between,’’ Cr Bradbery said.
The 12-week program started in November 2022. The undergraduates are integrated with a diverse group of specialist teams within Council's Infrastructure and Works division. These include:
- Project Delivery, who focus on major projects like the Grand Pacific Walk, refurbishment of the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre and Warrawong Community Centre and Library
- City Works, who are responsible for footpaths and road construction and city cleansing
- And Infrastructure Strategy and Planning who develop the Infrastructure Delivery Program to link together long and short-term projects and schedule these around Council’s capital works budget.
"These students have the opportunity to learn about everything from stormwater management, structural design, to geotechnical services,’’ Wollongong City Council General Manager Greg Doyle said.
“There is huge diversity in what we do as an organisation, and this is apparent in the types of works these students are being exposed to. The opportunity for internships provides them with the chance to test out what they think might be their chosen specialisation in a welcoming and knowledgeable environment.
"As an organisation, we really value our people and welcome the opportunity to support the next generation of workers who may look to dedicate their lives to the community by working in local government.
“We have a well-established civil engineering cadetship and graduate engineer programs, in addition to this program. It’s all part of our commitment to supporting meaningful career paths in local government.’’
Dylan Mesiti, one of the civil engineering interns, says the learning opportunities have been second to none and he has enjoyed meaningfully contributing to projects.
“The team has been welcoming and friendly from day one. They’ve taken a genuine interest in my development as an engineer, and every day I am exposed to something different.”
“I am most proud of creating a template to help estimate costs for road reconstructions. With my spreadsheet, an engineer will enter the parameters of the road design and it calculates an estimate of the cost of the project. In the future, this will save engineers working on these projects a great deal of time, as they won’t have to do calculations by hand.”
Another intern, Hung Dang, is impressed by the amount of work Council undertakes. He is enjoying seeing how the City’s infrastructure is funded, designed, and built with sustainability and long-term vision in mind.
“It’s such a unique experience, working for Council. The enormous number of projects helps me understand the big picture, and how Council delivers projects for Wollongong.”
“The best project for me was working on the Infrastructure Delivery Program, helping make recommendations on upcoming projects. I got to incorporate my financial and engineering knowledge to consider all aspects of these projects, like scope, financing, design, and construction.”
“It surprised me how many skills are required in civil engineering, and this internship has helped me become a more well-rounded professional.”
Martin Liu, coordinator of the longstanding partnership at the University, said the support and supervision provided by Council’s engineers gives students their first, and most valuable, work experience.
“This program opens career pathways and is a shining example of integrating industrial work experience with university education. It advances both higher education and industrial practice.”
Council is committed to providing meaningful employment and educational pathways, with a diverse range of cadets, trainees, and apprentices currently working in a wide variety of fields in the organisation. Applications for 2024 programs will open in late 2023.
For nearly 15 years, Council and the University have worked to provide valuable engineering internships. Council’s Infrastructure & Works team currently employs almost a dozen engineers who worked with Council through this pathway.
Interested undergraduates are encouraged to speak to their subject coordinator.