Coliban Water engineer Daniel Watson drives past La Trobe University’s new engineering building most days to drop his children at the neighbouring childcare centre.
“I always look up and think, why couldn’t that building have been here when I was studying,” says Coliban Water’s Partnerships and Asset Systems manager.
The purpose-built department was more than a few years away when Daniel was at university, but he took full advantage of the other benefits of the local course, namely, its connection to industry.
Daniel and work colleague Carl Oliver both received scholarships from Coliban Water while completing their Bachelor of Civil Engineering at the Bendigo Campus.
Both gained work experience during their course, were chosen for the graduate program once finished, and now manage departments of the water authority.
“I decided when I was relatively young that I wanted to be an engineer. I saw documentaries on things like skyscrapers and huge dams and I wanted to be part of projects like that. The engineering course at La Trobe covered off what I wanted and had the convenience of being in Bendigo,” Daniel adds, having grown up here.
Carl moved from the family farm at Cobram to pursue his love of maths and problem solving. “Civil engineering offered me a broad discipline as I didn’t exactly know at the time what field within engineering I wanted to pursue,” Carl says.
“I enjoyed studying in Bendigo, meeting different people and making lots of friends. Remaining here and working at Coliban Water offered a secure future, but also a challenging and interesting role.”
Carl is now Coliban Water’s Urban Services manager, ensuring the region has access to safe drinking water and sanitary services 24/7.
Coliban Water is still providing opportunities for Bendigo engineering students, many of who take part in work placements, summer internships, and ultimately, gain employment with the organisation.
“We understand what’s really important to young engineers, and that’s the chance to learn as much as possible and not be limited to one task,” Carl says. “We give them experience and get them out into the field.”
Daniel says Coliban Water knows Bendigo graduates are passionate and ready for the workplace. He says the smaller class sizes and caring lecturers at La Trobe contribute to that.
“The relationship we had with our lecturers was really personal, and the beauty of that was lectures were more like conversations, rather than just sitting in a hall taking notes,” he says.
At the time Carl and Daniel graduated many new engineers followed the mining boom to Western Australia, however both say they’re thankful they stayed to build a career in Bendigo.
“It’s a great job, and I don’t have to put my family second,” Daniel says on the lifestyle and opportunities Bendigo offers.
“It’s also been extremely fulfilling to help provide a public service to the region that I grew up in.”