Engineering graduate the third generation of his family to complete studies at UOW

When Ben Fillippi walked on stage to accept his graduation testamur today (Friday 14 December), he was the third generation of his family to do so.

In the audience, his grandfather and his mother – both University of Wollongong alumni – celebrated as Ben continued the family connection to their alma mater.

Ben, who graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours), majoring in Mechatronics, during this morning’s ceremony, said UOW was always the obvious choice for his studies, both due to the quality of the engineering education and the generational ties.

“I’ve always been interested in mechanics and engineering, but I wasn’t sure which stream of engineering I wanted to go down,” he said.

“When I was finishing school, I looked at the way the world was going, and the way the world would be in 20 or 30 years, and I thought that mechatronics would combine the best of mechanical and electrical engineering, and have the greatest impact in the future.

“UOW had such a great reputation for engineering too, so it made sense.”

Ben’s grandfather, Eric Nyholm, graduated from UOW in 1965, with a Bachelor of Science (Metallurgy). At the time, the University was known as Wollongong College of the University of New South Wales.

“He graduated from Wollongong campus, and was part of the first cohort of students to live at Weerona College,” Ben said of UOW’s student accommodation.

Close to two decades later, Ben’s mother – then Leanne Nyholm – had her time on the stage, graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce in 1991.

Ben said he was proud to be the third generation of the family to attend, and graduate from UOW, and was thrilled to have his grandfather and mother in the audience.

“It’s really nice to continue that family connection. It feels like we have come full circle.”

During his time at the University, Ben has become an integral part of the UOW Motorsport team. The team take part in an annual Formula SAE competition, in which they design, build and race an open-wheel, formula-style race car.

The club spoke to Ben’s love of mechanics, and he quickly become involved from his first year on campus, in 2015.

By the following year, he was the Steering Manager, then the Suspension Manager in 2017.

For the past 18 months, he has held the role of Technical Director, which requires him to oversee the team and every aspect of the design and prototype process.

Ben said being involved in the project has given him greater context for his studies and exceptional practical skills.

“UOW Motorsport is incredibly beneficial for how you develop as an engineer. It provides you with design and building skills, and helps you put your studies into practice.”

After graduation, Ben is bound for Adelaide, where he will take up a graduate position at engineering consultants Applidyne, working in the field of mechatronic engineering.