Each year we send our top students in chemical and biomolecular engineering across the globe to put their skills to the test on real projects. We caught up with Grace Henry and James Zhang to hear about their experiences.
The Major Industrial Project Placement Scholarship (MIPPS) Scheme is a program in which top final year students in chemical and biomolecular engineering are placed in a relevant company, enabling them to gain hands-on experience on real projects.
Location: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Company: The Dow Chemical Company
Project: Performance evaluation of new water purification technology
Grace's work placement brought her to coast of the Red Sea in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Based at the Dow Middle East Innovation Centre, Grace learned to use industrial data to evaluate the operational performance of the new water purification technology in their water desalination pilot plant. It is hoped that her results will assist the Dow sales and marketing team in demonstrating the plant's performance to industrial clients and boost sales of the new technology.
"The experience was invaluable for both my professional and personal development. I really enjoyed having the opportunity to live within a compound that had people from over 100 different nationalities, and learning about their lifestyles back home. It has made me realise how incredibly fortunate I am to have grown up in Australia which until now I have always taken for granted," says Grace.
Grace now approaches the final semester of her studies with confidence. "As a female gaining experience in Saudi Arabia, I believe I have greatly increased my job prospects for next year and look forward to developing my career further, either in Australia or abroad," says Grace.
Location: Southern Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea
Company: Papuan Oil Search Limited
Project: Hydraulic Modelling and Hydrate Formation of Onshore Multiphase Flow Pipeline Gathering Systems
James found himself in the hidden mountain valleys of Papua New Guinea. His MIPPS placement brought him to production facilities owned by Oil Search Limited in the Southern Highlands Province. His project aimed to expand and enhance the understanding of dynamic multiphase flow conditions in the pipeline gathering systems.
"My industry supervisor Andrew Hay was very eager for me to get a comprehensive understanding of the environment and terrains of the project, as these conditions were one of the main causes for the dynamic variations in the process conditions which often lead to various problems," says James. "He also knew that it would be a great educational experience for me to learn about the daily business operations of the company, as well as the many challenges in ensuring that a safe and optimised production routine is properly maintained."
For James, the MIPPS scheme was not just a six-month work experience project; he feels extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to be able travel to an unfamiliar territory and interact with a new culture and people.
"I see it [MIPPS] as a journey of academic learning and personal growth that produces benefits to the school, the company and the student. I believe that this unique personal experience has greatly enhanced my passion for engineering and innovation, as well as better preparing me to work overseas and for my future career endeavours," says James.
Over 175 students and 20 companies have been part of the MIPPS Scheme. The scheme has sent students across globe to countries such as Saudi Arabia, Samoa, Japan, Papua New Guinea and the United States.
The School of Civil Engineering welcomes Professor Brian Uy as the new Head School, having held leadership positions at the University of NSW, the University of Western Sydney and the University of Wollongong.