Summary – IAES Communities session presentation, January 2020

Jacks Story by Jack Coppins – Undergraduate Mechanical Engineer, Aurecon &Former IAES Student (2015)

My engineering pathway began when my teacher asked me what kind of job I wanted to pursue after school. I didn’t really have a dream job or any real idea of what I wanted to do so I asked my teachers what they thought was best. I was studying high level maths, physics, and chemistry so I wanted to know what kind of jobs involve a combination of them, and their response was Engineering. Not really knowing what exactly engineering was at the time, I did some research about it all and it seemed like an interesting field of work. Luckily for me, in 2015 the indigenous councillor at my school found out about the IAES which, as we all know about, has the purpose of educating indigenous students about engineering. I was hesitant to apply at first because I had never pursued something like this, but I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t.

The IAESS gave me a passion for engineering. The Sydney Harbour bridge climb, visiting Qantas, and chemically engineering ice cream were some of my highlights just to name a few. By the end of the trip, I knew I wanted to become an engineer, however I found most fields interesting so couldn’t decide which I liked the most. I worked hard in year 12 and graduated with an ATAR that allowed me to be accepted into any branch of engineering at the University of Adelaide. After going to various Open Days and talking to people who could offer me guidance, I ultimately decided to enrol in the University of Adelaide studying a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering (Honours) with a Bachelor of Science double degree. I came to this conclusion because I really enjoyed physics in Year 12 and the question I frequently asked people was “Which engineering involves the most physics?” and their response was Mechanical Engineering.

I am still very grateful that Anne Vans-Colina contacted me when learning that I had begun studying engineering and offered me a scholarship and a chance to meet with an IAES sponsor to see if they could support me in any way. I quickly met with a contact from Aurecon and after a while of getting things set up, they had offered me a full cadetship throughout the rest of my degree. This means that I would be given the opportunity to do meaningful engineering work while studying my degree to further my engineering development. So far, I have been fortunate enough to work in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney on various projects which have all given their significant learning experiences.

In the Adelaide office I have worked on The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, where I was given the opportunity to create a 3D model used within the tender, also the Calvary Hospital, which involved me visiting site most days and learning aboutthe various mechanical services within buildings, and have even been involved in the Building Sciences team where I was able to construct a model of a shopping centre to simulate the effects of wind on the complex. One of the best parts about working in Engineering so far is the opportunities, and geography not being an issue. Last year I worked in Melbourne on one of the largest projects in Australia, The West Gate Tunnel. Throughout my holidays I would fly to Melbourne during the week to work on various parts of the project with the mechanical, fire, and electrical teams, and some project advisory with asset management. However, the most interesting part of this experience was working with the Tunnel Ventilation team which used Computational Fluid Dynamics to analyse the tunnel. From there, I developed an interest in programming, and through many conversations with co-workers. From this, I decided to switch my double degree from a Bachelor of Science to Bachelor of Computer Science as I believe that digital will be very beneficial to my career as an engineer.

I am also on Aurecon’s RAP working group, which seeks to create an Australia which celebrates and embraces the unity between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This year we published our third version of the RAP, but what  I really love is being involved with the group and meeting people who are as passionate as me about my culture. My mentor is Mark Henaway who from the BirriGubba (Juru) Nation.Mark has taught me a lot about his life as an indigenous engineer and has offered his guidance and advice to me throughout my career so far.

I currently am 3 years into my engineering degree and have loved every bit of it. I enjoy embracing the challenges of some subjects, being in stimulating group assignments with my mates, and continually learning new things. The programming component of my degree has been very interesting so far. I have especially enjoyed the problem-solving aspects of each course and the challenges they present. I look forward to how it will assist my engineering work in the future.

When I look back at my time in the IAES five years ago, I never dreamt I would be telling my story to this years students. I hope I can inspire them to be somewhere great in five years time.