This is a guest post and part of our ongoing Student Life series

By  Zayne Robinson, Systems Engineer – Department of Defence, BEng (MECH) HonsZayne Robinson

Why did you choose Engineering at the University of Wollongong?

The University of Wollongong (UOW) has always been a renowned institution offering a diverse range of degrees and facilities. UOW has always strived to be amongst the best Universities in the world for graduate employability. With the state-of-the-art technology implemented within the school of Engineering and Technology, this has allowed students to further enhance their knowledge by providing them with opportunities to practice their theoretical skills in a practical environment in areas such as engineering, computer science, data analytics, cyber and the biomedical field. The University also has an amazing ambience with loads of activities, delicious cafes and the famous UniBar which has played host to internationally renowned musicians, local bands, artists and comedians. Nestled between the beach and the rainforest, UOW offers a tranquil environment where students can balance their study workload with their social outings. Therefore, the several reasons outlined above made UOWthe first choice for my undergraduate degree and it is no surprise that it still is the first choice for many students.     

 

How does your time at UOW impact what you are currently working on now?

I currently work for the Department of Defence as a Systems Engineer, where my primary responsibility is acquiring capability for military purposes. Capability ranges from new aircraft (e.g. JSF project), ships (e.g. Future Frigates project) and submarines (e.g. Future submarine project) to new weapons and autonomous systems; army land vehicles and modernisation of soldier kits. Studying at UOW as a mechanical engineer has provided me with the fundamental engineering and technical skills to successfully work and operate in a constantly evolving and agile environment. UOW’s Mechanical Engineering curriculum coupled with electives such as Economics and Project Management enabled me to adopt important skills that I utilise on a daily basis. Having a technical mind has allowed me to succeed as an Engineer within the Defence environment, where Systems Engineering is the primary technical role within the Department. Having adopted not only the technical skills through my studies at UOW but also personnel skills such as Teamwork, Professionalism, Leadership, Integrity, Courage, and Innovation has allowed me to integrate into various and diverse teams in all operational environments – Land, Air, Sea, Cyber and Space. The skills learned at UOW has provided me with a holistic approach to succeed as a requirements manager, test engineer and an engineer specialising in Combat Management Systems (CMS). 

 

Was there a particular class or Professor that really stuck with you?

The UOW Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences is equipped with staff that has a passion for delivering the latest and most relevant information to students in all sorts of environments – be that in the classroom, laboratories and sites such as the UOW Innovation campus. The University offers a wide variety of electives to Engineering students which complement their engineering studies quite well. Although I don’t have a favourite class or professor, I gained a lot of technical skills through the Mechanical engineering curriculum, however, the completion of my thesis taught me key industry skills such as innovation, independent research, and learning; teamwork, leadership and time management which has excelled me not only through my professional career but also my personal life. 

 

What inspires you the most about your current work?

Having the ability to work with cutting-edge technology and being exposed to unique opportunities and experiences has always kept my motivation levels up. The idea of coming into work and working on projects which have a direct influence on supporting the men and women serving overseas to protect our nation and its national interests drive me to come to work on a daily basis. 

In addition, facing the constant challenges that come up in the project on a daily basis and the constantly changing work environment plays a massive influence to get me to work. Some days I might be compiling documents, other days I might be attending design reviews, witnessing test activities, liaising with international stakeholders, travelling domestically and/or internationally to clarify issues / achieve project outcomes or working with wider areas within Defence to help deliver our project within schedule and under budget.

 

What three pieces of advice would you give to current university students?

  • “If you always do what you have always done, you will always be what you have always been”. 
  • Don’t let statistics and numbers be an excuse for not applying for graduate positions. If you don’t apply, you will never know what the outcome was and will never learn. Always do the best you can with whatever choices and actions you take on. 
  • Never be afraid of venturing into the unknown. That is; do not be scared of putting yourself into unfamiliar environments – every mistake you make is an opportunity for you to learn something new. Always come with an open mind as an opportunity only presents itself once.