At a time when girls are being encouraged to consider tertiary study for careers in engineering, Griffith University student Bianca Ivak is an ideal example of what can be achieved.

The fourth-year student has been working with global mining and metals company Rio Tinto through Griffith’s Industry Affiliates Program and last week won the Student Category in the Student and Young Engineer Presentation Awards

Hosted at the Gold Coast campus, the awards are an initiative of the Engineers Australia(Queensland Division) Gold Coast Regional Group and aim to assist student and young engineers with their public speaking and presentation skills in front of industry representatives.

Pro Vice Chancellor (Griffith Sciences), Professor Debra Henly, and Head of the School of Engineering, Professor Geoff Tansley, welcomed guests including the Federal Member for McPherson, The Honourable Karen Andrews MP, who is also Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Industry and Science, The Honourable Mr Ian Macfarlane.

From left, Young Engineer winner Ben Modini, Ms Karen Andrews MP, Roozbeh Mirjalili and David Yang

From left, Young Engineer winner Ben Modini, Ms Karen Andrews MP, Roozbeh Mirjalili and David Yang

For Bianca, the awards confirmed that effective communication is an important aspect of engineering practice.

“Through working with Rio Tinto, I have seen how important it is to be able to properly and effectively explain projects. I love a chat anyway, but the company gave me a lot of help with how to structure and deliver a presentation,” she says.

Bianca’s interest in engineering was sparked at a Griffith University Open Day a few years ago.

“I thought I might like to work in the car industry because my father is a mechanic and I had always been around cars,” she says.

“But when I got to Open Day I saw how wide-ranging engineering can be and I was hooked.”

Bianca is studying for a Bachelor of Engineering majoring in Mechanical Engineering and says she has benefited greatly from the Industry Affiliates Program, a Work-Integrated Learning program helping final-year, undergraduate and postgraduate students transition into the workplace.

Her winning presentation, A Review of the Hydraulic Pump Maintenance Strategy for Large Hydraulic Excavators, was chosen ahead of Lee Flueckiger (IAP partner: ICET LAB) and Lucy Nitschinsk (IAP partner: Tsinghua University in China).

The Young Engineer category was won by Ben Modini, who is now working with Australian-based professional services firm SMEC, ahead of SMEC co-worker Roozbeh Mirjalili and David Yang (Newell Consulting).

All are graduates from Griffith’s School of Engineering.