Electrical Engineers design, develop, test and supervise the manufacturing of electrical equipment such as power distribution, electric motors, sensors and navigation systems, communications systems and power generation equipment.
For a young Brendan Mansell, the question of how to harness an energy source that you cannot directly see provided an endless source of fascination. With a passion for understanding how electricity and power generation worked, it was clear to Brendan that his future career would somehow involve electricity.
“Initially I wanted to be an electrician, but as I got older, I became more concerned with climate change. I realised that if I wanted to contribute to solutions to these real-world problems, I would have to increase my skill set,” Brendan said.
Knowing this, he enrolled in a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT). Currently in his third-year, Brendan is one of 35 students chosen to participate in the National Naval Shipbuilding Scholarship Pilot program, which supports students in their third and fourth-year engineering studies to achieve their academic goals, with a strong focus on disciplines which are in demand across Australia’s Naval Shipbuilding Enterprise.
Brendan had not considered a career in naval shipbuilding before, but when the scholarship pilot was advertised on RMIT’s website, he did some research and realised the opportunities.
“I was aware of the investment that the government was making into these major Defence Programs, and I looked at what the Future Frigates were going to have in terms of technology. I researched the hybrid power system with back up electric turbines. This transition to renewable or partially renewable sources is something I have always wanted to be part of and this really interested me.”
Work placements are a vital aspect of the scholarship; giving students valuable practical experience within the shipbuilding industry – and this practical experience was key for Brendan.
“I’d spoken to engineers who told me that one of the best ways to gain an appreciation for, and figure out where your area of interest lies, is to get some industry experience,” he said.
“If it wasn’t for the scholarship, I was going to be madly applying for work experience opportunities to try and get that practical experience under my belt. The scholarship offered me that crucial experience, to learn the baseline skill set I’m going to need to be the most productive graduate engineer in the field.”
Beyond the scholarship, the huge array of engineering opportunities and the scale of projects combined with the chance to align his values and interests within Australia’s Naval Shipbuilding Industry provided the extra impetus for Brendan to focus on naval shipbuilding as his future career.
“I have become aware of the changing mindset that is being applied to design more efficient, renewable and sustainable systems, machines and devices, and this appears to be taking place within some of the Royal Australian Navy’s fleet.
“The design of the combined diesel, gas and electric motor hybrid propulsion system in the Hunter Class Frigates is a great example of this, and I am very eager to join an industry which has these design goals front of mind at the completion of my studies”.
For these multi-decade Defence Programs, the next generation of shipbuilders like Brendan are ensuring that Australia’s capability remains at the forefront of innovation, agility and technical expertise.
“One of the biggest things that has driven me to pursue an engineering career in shipbuilding is the overarching interest the Australian Defence Force has shown towards renewable/alternative energy technologies, not only to lower costs and reduce environmental impacts but to improve energy security,” Brendan said.
“I am very excited to participate within this transition to more of a renewable energy driven future.”
Applications for the 2021 National Naval Shipbuilding Pipeline Scholarship Pilot are now open for second-year students via the QUT website and RMIT website.