Destination Bendigo for future engineers

A school trip to East Timor in Year 11 inspired La Trobe University student Jessica Gould to pursue engineering. Even then, she knew there was a better way to deal with the country’s precarious infrastructure.

“I was exposed to roads that were relatively new but looked and felt like they shouldn’t be used,” Jessica says.

“We were told the roads were in good condition compared to other years and the reason they fall apart so quickly was because of the frequent movement of the ground, causing landslides.

“That did not sit right with me as I knew there must be a solution to this, you just need to think about it a bit differently and maybe try something you haven’t tried before. Knowing that engineers are behind projects like this, I started looking into it and found out how diverse, interesting and rewarding it would be to pursue a career as a civil engineer.”

Jessica, of Echuca, is now one year into the course that will allow her to fulfill her career goals.

“I chose to study at Bendigo La Trobe because it was rural and because of the opportunities it gave me,” she says. “I live rurally and love it. I didn’t want to leave the country and Bendigo seemed like the perfect solution. The engineering classes were also said to be smaller so the thought of being able to get more individual help when needed was a bonus.”

Jessica says despite the unprecedented challenges of studying during the pandemic, her first year at La Trobe has been great.

“The things I have learnt have made me realise how important engineering is as just about everything needs an engineer. You are not just simply learning an equation, but how to use it and why you need it. There is a bridge being built in my town and it is exciting to think I know the basics behind creating it.”

Jessica’s future plans include influencing the kind of third world projects that sparked her interest.

“I would love to be a part of humanitarian engineering projects, while also having an impact in Australia, working on projects that will benefit everyone,” she says.

Fellow student has big plans for hometown of Swan Hill

“My ultimate goal is to become a chartered engineer,” Gwenevere Thompson says, “and one of my biggest ambitions is to build the first high rise in Swan Hill, but we will see how that goes!”

For this La Trobe University Bendigo Campus Engineering student, a love of the field runs in her family.

“My mum is a project manager who works with engineers every day and is always coming home and telling me what she is working on, so ever since I was young I would tell her I wanted to be a structural engineer,” Gwenevere says.

“I have always been fascinated with buildings and large structures, and ultimately how they are created, and the satisfaction of watching something go from the paper to the real world inspires me.”

Gwenevere says the Bendigo Campus’ regional location was a big drawcard when considering her study options.

“I knew that Bendigo would feel like a home away from home,” she says. “I was really excited about the opportunities the campus provided engineering students, and after leaving the open day last year, I was sold. Coming here has been one of the best decisions I’ve made.”

She also had an extra incentive to study at the regional La Trobe campus when she qualified for a Destination Australia scholarship, which supports students with $15,000 per annum for up to four years to study in a regional area.

“The Destination Australia Scholarship has meant so much to not only me, but everyone around me, including my parents and past teachers,” Gwenevere says.

“It’s ensured that as a regional student, I can stay in regional Victoria and not have to look past regional destinations for things like accommodation and extra learning resources. Applying for the scholarship has changed my life as a student.” 

Gwenevere says despite beginning her course during the challenging times of 2020, she’s loving it.

“I do wish, along with probably most university students, that we were getting the full experience of being on campus. But despite the strange circumstances, the teachers have been fantastic and extremely accommodating as we are all adjusting to online learning and I’ve been really enjoying the content and subjects.”

In the short term, Gwenevere hopes to graduate and get straight into the workforce as a structural engineer.

“I know there’s lots of work to come, but I couldn’t be more excited at this stage,” she says.

There are still opportunities to apply for a Destination Australia scholarship to begin studying in 2021. More information on our website.

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