Thinking outside the box

construction-engineers-standardThe Civil Engineering Mentorship Program, which is being piloted this year, is a collaborative venture between La Trobe University, the City of Greater Bendigo (COGB), Terraco and VicRoads that allows students from Bendigo Senior Secondary College and Catholic College Bendigo to get a broad taste of the profession.

The high school students involved in the program are being mentored and supervised by graduates of La Trobe University Bendigo’s civil engineering course who now work with the three partnering organisations.

‘Students are experiencing civil engineering from three comprehensive perspectives: on site, in the design office and with customers’ said Mal Kersting, VicRoads Regional Director.

‘Being able to work with the three organisations will give them a valuable perspective on engineering and hopefully enhance their desire to do civil engineering at the end of their VCE studies.’

Steven Attard, Acting Senior Maintenance Engineer at VicRoads, is a La Trobe University graduate who has been mentoring students in the program. He has enjoyed relating his work experiences to students.

‘This kind of vocational training is great because it is not just about learning about the work companies do or practicing skills. It is also about meeting people and getting your foot in the door.’

Terraco, COGB and VicRoads are hoping that, like Mr Attard, students will be encouraged to stay in Bendigo after completing the VCE.

‘One of the benefits of doing this at a local level is that we know that if someone graduates from a regional university they tend to stay and work in the region,’ says Mr Kersting.

‘We see this program as an important link in the chain leading from local secondary colleges to a local university and then into a number of local career streams. If we are in a position to help talented locals to get an idea of what career options lie ahead, establishing a relationship with them can only be a positive thing.’

Brett Martini, Manager of Asset Planning and Design at the City Of Greater Bendigo, says that the program is also a way of rejuvenating the industry.

‘One of the challenges that we are facing is that of an ageing workforce. So it is really important that we do all that we can to get young people into this profession at a local level.’

‘There is certainly a constant demand for engineers across the industry, but particularly in growing cities like Bendigo,’ says Paul Bowe, Managing Director at Terraco.

‘To me the critical thing is that we are saying to young people who express an interest in engineering that they can come along, test the water and see if they can see themselves making a career out of this. If that assists them to make a decision to take this further, then that’s great.’


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