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Careers Seminar: Engineering

Preparing the boys for life beyond Waverley is a key focus for the next phase of Waverley’s strategic plan. One initiative that helps with this is the Careers Seminar series run by Kath Knowles. Old Boys are invited back to the school to speak about their careers in a particular field – giving the students a real-life perspective on what to expect both at University and later on in a career.

"They’re not just hearing these success stories, they’re seeing and experiencing the stories and the journeys … you can re-tell your journey and the boys think ‘Well I can do something like that'."

Kath Knowles, Careers Coordinator

female teacher talking with ex students

Kath Knowles - Senior Studies, Careers and VET Co-ordinator

Kath, Careers Coordinator:

I can definitely see the boys getting a lot out of these career seminars. It’s inspiring and makes it more relevant for them. They’re not just hearing these success stories, they’re seeing and experiencing the stories and the journeys. I think that’s what’s really important – the journeys – that you can re-tell your journey and the boys think ‘Well I can do something like that’. It gives them that inspiration to achieve and gives them a goal – having that sense that ‘An Old Boy’s done it, I can do it.’ And hopefully the message tonight is what you’ve got to do to get there – so hard work, and maybe it’s not all about the subjects that you do at school.

Ex student giving seminar to audience

Andrew Weetman giving his seminar

Andrew Weetman, Class of ’11, final year Civil Engineering and Architecture at UNSW:

So why did I think about studying engineering? In all seriousness, the reason I got into engineering was because I loved playing with Lego. I thought first day I would be designing buildings. Instead I was greeted with a stack of textbooks. Soil mechanics was an absolute cracker!

The first three years are pretty hard – in fact you’ll more than likely struggle through – but then in fourth year you decide what you want to do, you’ll find a place to work, and that will all change. I started with ‘Engineers Without Borders’ about halfway through my third year, and it was the first time I actually got to be an engineer. You’ll have a problem, you’ll have all these variables and you’ll have to deal with them. The analytical part comes in to play. There’s also the human side of solving problems, which you don’t learn at Uni. The end goal is to create sustainable solutions.

two ex students talking engineering

Scott Doble, left, talking with Glen Ong, right

Glen Ong, Class of ’08, is completing a double major that includes Aerospace Engineering and is currently employed as a Systems Engineer at the Downer Group:

Why did I get into engineering? I liked planes. That’s it. If there’s a plane around I gaze at it like a little kid – I’m still like that today! It very easily distracts me!

You see these things flying in the air and you think, that’s about 200 tonnes or more and you wonder how that thing is in the air – transporting people more safely than your regular day-to-day bus, train or car. I know we’ve had a lot of issues lately, but you’re less likely to die in a plane than getting hit by lightning.

So I was really curious to know how this worked.

Ex students discussing engineering

David Jones, right, with Alex, Glen and Scott

David Jones, Class of 97, manages a team of engineers at the Downer Group:

For me, in terms of what I about to speak about tonight, there are a few points to cover off about a career in Engineering. But there are some other, I guess, softer skills that I’d like to get the guys to focus on around leadership, and teamwork, and communication – which I think is actually key in progressing in your career – which they can work on in the next couple of years at school. It’s those softer skills that I’ve found to be more helpful in getting through and progressing through my career. I don’t know if you guys feel the same way?

returning ex students

Scott Doble, Class of '86

Scott Doble, Class of ’86, runs his own Engineering company, Ashley Doble, and works as a Project Director:

Most definitely, communication is one of the main things that I’ve learnt. And I think opportunity is the other. Engineering gives you so much opportunity – studying engineering gives you a basis for a very grounded career – you can go into structural, like I did, or aeronautical. You have the opportunity to go into business as well. Studying Engineering is not easy, but if you succeed, it will set you up for the future. It’s really a gateway for the future.

seminar to students and parents

Glen giving his seminar


I think those softer skills that you’re talking about – communication, organization, critical thinking – they’re really important now in all degrees. This is what all the universities are talking about – particularly the importance of communication skills.


That’s ultimately what the employers are looking for.


It’s not just about what’s on paper. They want you to be able to communicate, to build relationships with people.


You’ve been reading my presentation haven’t you?!

The seminar speakers, chatting

Kath, Careers Coordinator:

How many related subjects would you say you did at Waverley?


Well, I only did 2-Unit Math.


And Physics?


No, I didn’t even do Physics. But I managed to do bridging courses. At Uni, I did a bridging course going from 2-Unit to 4-Unit Math in about 2 weeks!


It’s interesting how the entry mark to get in changes over the years depending on the desirability of the profession.


A TER of 65 was all you needed when I went to Uni.


Now it’s 91 at some universities.


That’s great.


It’s 85 – 91 depending on the university.

The audience at the seminar


Some universities have programs, such as UNSW, where if you get between 81–91 – they look at how well you have gone in particular subjects, such as extension Math or Physics, and that can get you bonus points. And then they’ll do an interview.


I did that.


You did? That’s really good to know. Actually a student asked me today ‘Do you know anyone who has gone through the UNSW program?’ and I said I don’t know, as people don’t generally come back and promote it. But that’s great. I always recommend it to them, just in case you don’t get the marks – you’ve got nothing to lose by putting your name down and registering.


So is that an extra fee?


No it’s not. It’s pretty much a safety net.

senior students talking with artwork in background

Year 12 students at the seminar

Ben, Year 12 Student:

I’ve spent a fair while researching what I want to do. I’m really keen on getting into Software Engineering and so I’m here to get a bit more info and see what other areas of Engineering people are working in.

James, Year 12 Student:

Well it’s just one of the areas of study that I’m looking at post-HSC. I’m trying to find out as much information as possible.

Sam, Year 12 Student:

I’m thinking of doing Engineering after school. I thought this is a great place to get some information and, I guess, help create focus and see what goal there is at the end.

Adam, Year 12 Student:

I’m planning to do Engineering or Computer Science and I’m here to understand what other courses are available to me. Hopefully I can learn more – see some first-hand experience from the Old Boys. I’m really keen to get to Uni.