Our Recycled Water and Environment Workgroup Manager, Karen Pither sat down with Technical Officer (and resident Under-Grad) Maddie Wright to get the scoop on her experience juggling university and her on-the-job training with Viridis! Read on..
What are you currently studying?
I’m in my final year of Chemical and Environmental Engineering
What made you choose that degree/those degrees?
Initially I only applied because I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I really enjoyed my maths and science subjects and at the time all I knew about engineering was that it used both.
Then, through my degree I was introduced to industry and what working as an engineer actually looked like. I also started to volunteer with Engineers Without Borders which showed me how my values can be practiced as an engineer. If it wasn’t for these experiences I don’t think I would have continued my studies, however as I’m reflecting on why I continued with this degree I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.
What have you enjoyed most about your degree?
I really enjoyed taking my course about Impact and Risk in Process Engineering. It was one of those subjects that will stay with me for the rest of my career.
You are involved with Engineers Without Borders, what is your role there?
I’ve been involved with Engineers Without Borders for 3 years and last year I was elected to be the 2018 President of the UQ EWB Chapter. With EWB I have been involved in organising social events such as our annual Careers Night where students and industry representatives are given the opportunity to network. I have also been involved in our School Outreach initiatives where we visit schools and run workshops about what engineering is and what it means to be a Humanitarian Engineer. My biggest achievement would have to be when we took the School Outreach program to Thursday and Horn Islands.
What has been the highlight of your engineering/environmental career to date (obviously other than working at Viridis)
My biggest highlight would have to be attending the 2018 OzWater Conference in Brisbane. It was such a defining moment for me as it affirmed my decision to pursue a career within the Water Industry. The values I was presented with from industry representatives reflected my own and being involved in panel discussions around the UN Sustainable Development Goals was an amazing experience.
What are your thoughts on starting work in the industry as an undergraduate?
I think I’m in a very lucky position to be able to work in the industry I want to be in before I’ve finished my degree. I’m already seeing so many connections between what I’ve been taught in my lectures and my work at Viridis.
How do you think organisations might benefit from employing undergraduates?
As an undergraduate, it’s really important to be exposed to the industry as much as possible. It has made my education much more holistic. If more organisations connect more with undergraduates, I believe graduates will become better engineers because of it.