Gizelle van Wyk

Gizelle van Wyk

Q&A with Petroleum Engineering Student

Gizelle van Wyk is a current student taking a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) (Petroleum) at UNSW. Gizelle was awarded the Co-op Program Scholarship which selects students based off their academic performance, passion, motivation, involvement with community - amongst other social pursuits. The scholarship also provides networking, training and industry experience alongside like-minded scholars  

We spoke to Gizelle about why she chose to study petroleum engineering at UNSW and on her future role at BHP. 

Why did you choose to study Petroleum Engineering? 

I am doing Petroleum Engineering and I chose it because I got the Co-Op scholarship for it. 

What do you like about your degree and what are your favourite classes? 

I liked collaborating with friends for university projects. My favourite subject was research thesis which is run differently from other faculties. Everyone gets the same thesis where you get a real-life petroleum scenario and you have to analyse it. It was very practical, and I definitely learned the most from it. 

Do you hold a Scholarship and what has it meant for you to be awarded this Scholarship? 

I hold the Co-op Petroleum Scholarship. It has meant that I could actually afford to move to Sydney (I’m from Perth) and pay for all my accommodation costs. It’s been financially freeing, but it also provided invaluable internships with my sponsor company.  

What are your favourite things to do in or around UNSW and how can students make the most out of the UNSW experience?  

Living on campus in a college or joining clubs are both invaluable ways of meeting like-minded people. For me I was able to join the Christian Society (CBS) and was able to grow and make friends. 

What do you think is the relevance of your degree and why is it important that it exists? 

I think petroleum engineering is one of the most important degrees out there. Renewable energy is nowhere near capable of providing the energy that Australia and the world needs at the moment. While technology is being developed for just that, we still need oil and gas for a functioning economy. Without it, transport, heating, and cooking would be impacted and many others. 

What do you want to do after completing your degree? How do you think your studies at UNSW will help in your career aspirations? 

I have a job at BHP starting next year, which will be Fly In Fly Out (FIFO). My degree at UNSW enabled me to get this Job. 

Can you share something about the resources & energy industry that might interest someone considering studies and a career in this industry? 

I am a petroleum engineer but am going to work in a mining position. Your degree is not as rigid as it seems. Additionally in petroleum companies, there are a lot of chemical engineers working in petroleum positions which is due to a shortage of petroleum engineering graduates. Having a petroleum degree will give you an advantage for these job positions. As in my case, my background in Petroleum Engineering has helped me to secure a role at BHP and Mining also offers variety and flexibility in the resources industry. If there is a downturn in one commodity, there will still be jobs in the other commodities that my skills can easily be transitioned to. 

What advice would you give to a new/future student on how to excel at your degree? 

It is a requirement to complete 12 weeks of internship work at a company to graduate as a petroleum engineer. I would recommend looking for internships in both petroleum and mining as a petroleum engineer. Therefore, you can get an internship in the mining industry and fulfill the 12-week requirement if a petroleum company does not offer you an internship. 

“There are a lot of chemical engineers working in petroleum positions which is due to a shortage of petroleum engineering graduates. Having a petroleum degree will give you an advantage for these job positions”