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Scholarships help aspiring engineers rise to the challenge

11 May 2022

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Two exceptional high school graduates have been named the winners of $10,000 scholarships that will help them achieve their dreams of becoming engineers. 

The inaugural ARISE Scholarships, awarded by Australian Resources Industry Skills and Education (ARISE) and supported by BHP and BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA), are aimed at addressing a shortage of engineers in the resources sector by attracting promising students to the field.

Samantha Vardy, of Tannum Sands State High School in Gladstone, and Henry Hall from Kelvin Grove State College, have both undertaken engineering studies this year. Samantha is enrolled in a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) at QUT, and Henry has embarked on a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) and Master of Engineering (Civil/Mining) at UQ.

For Samantha, the scholarship will assist with the financial costs of moving from Gladstone to Brisbane to study at QUT and will allow her the freedom to undertake work placement opportunities within the industry. A diligent leader, who was the vice-captain of her school in 2021, Samantha had an abiding passion for mathematics and science, but only recently became interested in engineering. 

“I was committed to further study at university but had not yet found my passion,” explained Samantha. “After completing a week of work experience in my hometown of Gladstone, where I worked alongside a team of engineers, I could see that engineering was the right path for me.” 

Henry Hall gravitated towards mining engineering for its career diversity and its strong focus on operations. “I’m also highly interested in the ongoing innovation in the sector – specifically the applications of artificial intelligence and machine learning, and how they can serve to reduce the industry’s environmental footprint, mitigate hazards to workers and make uneconomical reserves economical,” he said. 

Henry’s involvement with QMEA – as a Year 10 participant in its STEM Unearthed program and as a QMEA Ambassador during his final year of school – influenced his degree choice. These opportunities, he said, enabled him to “recognise that there was significantly more depth to mining engineering than I initially thought”. 

The scholarship funds will give him freedom and flexibility in his studies, by lowering the number of hours he needs to work each week and allowing him to maximise engagement with internships and industry opportunities.

ARISE Manager of Skills and Education Matthew Heskett said that Samantha and Henry will be an asset to the engineering profession. “Students as capable and driven as Samantha and Henry sometimes have a tough time deciding on a specific career direction,” he pointed out. “It’s wonderful that, based on the opportunities they were given at school to engage with mining professionals and learn about resources in a hands-on, exciting and comprehensive way, they were able to make educated decisions about their career aspirations.”

BMA’s Head of Human Resources Tamara Barden said engineering graduates are crucial as mining evolves through new challenges. 

“We are proud to invest in the educational potential of both Samantha and Henry, as they represent the future of the resources sector,” she said.

The Australian Resources Industry Skills and Education (ARISE) Initiative was established to broaden the geographic reach of the highly successful industry-led education and skills training initiative, QMEA, in states and territories across Australia. 

The initiative encourages secondary school students into STEM-related careers in the resources sector, with a focus on female and Indigenous participation. The initiative is made possible through the support of foundation partners, BHP and BMA, and provides students and teachers the opportunity to experience the resources sector operations through on-site and in-school activities, flagship camps, and scholarships.

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