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Resources scholarships awarded to rising stars of engineering

5 September 2023

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Two promising first-year engineering students – one from Queensland and one from New South Wales – have been awarded scholarships aimed at addressing a shortage of engineers in the resources sector.

The ARISE Scholarships, awarded by Australian Resources Industry Skills and Education (ARISE) and supported by BHP and BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA), are open to students in Year 12 at ARISE partner schools.  

Rhys Thurstun, from Redeemer Lutheran College in Rochedale, Qld was awarded a $10,000 scholarship while Mufaro Tom, from Muswellbrook High School in NSW’s Hunter Valley, was awarded a $5,000 scholarship.

Currently enrolled in a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) at UQ, Rhys Thurstun is on a pathway to specialise in chemical engineering. Rhys said that the money will assist with university costs and provide avenues to connect with industry representatives.

“As one of our college captains and the dux of the school last year, Rhys demonstrated exceptional leadership skills,” said Redeemer Lutheran College Head of Senior School, Anastasia Strong. “We believe that Rhys will make a big impact in his chosen field of engineering.”

Rhys was attracted to engineering on the basis that it incorporates some of his favourite subjects: physics, maths and chemistry. Taking part in the 2021 ARISE Oresome Minds Camp in the Bowen Basin – where Year 10 and 11 students worked on site with engineers to develop solutions in real-world scenarios – gave him a unique insight into the field.

“I got a taste of the engineering process,” he said, “which involves research, brainstorming, iterating and evaluating solutions to arrive at a final solution to a problem.”

For Mufaro Tom, the first student from outside of Queensland to win an ARISE Scholarship, engineering is a natural progression from his love of maths and physics. Inspired by his father, who works in the mining industry, Mufaro is undertaking a Bachelor of Engineering in the Mining Transfer Program at the University of Newcastle.

Mufaro’s scholarship will help him to afford essentials, such as textbooks, as he sets himself up for his degree. “It will also take the pressure off working during semesters, so I’ll be able to dedicate more time to studying and reaching my educational goals,” added Mufaro.

“Muswellbrook High School’s staff and students are thrilled for Mufaro,” said Principal Kylie Fabri. “He was valued member of our Student Representative Council and was also selected in 2021 as one of 20 Rural Youth Ambassadors across NSW tasked with finding ways to improve education for rural students.”

ARISE Manager of Skills and Education Matthew Heskett said that these scholarships are designed to help some of the best and brightest young Australians as they pursue careers in the resources sector.

“Both Rhys and Mufaro have gravitated towards engineering because of their love of STEM subjects, and because they’ve had exposure to the resources sector during their school years,” said Matthew. “These scholarships will allow them more freedom and flexibility during their studies so that they can focus on their educational experiences.”

BMA’s Head of Technical Services Shaun Hansen said that engineering graduates are crucial to mining’s future. “As the resources sector evolves through new challenges, we are proud to support dynamic young people like Rhys and Mufaroas they enter this exciting field.”

BHP NSW Energy Coal Vice President Adam Lancey congratulated Muswellbrook local Mufaro for being the first NSW student to be awarded an ARISE Scholarship. “As an aspiring engineer and inspiring young leader, Mufaro will be an asset to Australian mining.”

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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