Phoebe McAuliffe

Phoebe McAuliffe

Q&A with Mining Engineering Student

“We need minerals and metals for our technology, our renewable energy, and our infrastructure, all of which will ultimately help us build a more sustainable and climate safe future.”

Meet Phoebe McAuliffe, a final year student who is pursuing a degree in Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) (Mining) at UNSW.

1.    What attracted you to study Mining Engineering?

Mining engineering offered me international opportunities, a variety of career directions, and ability to work on interesting large-scale projects and be involved in an industry at the base of Australia’s and the global economy. But most of all I spoke to people who have been practicing mining engineers for 30+ years and they were still incredibly passionate about what they were doing, and I wanted that enthusiasm for my future. In fact, I have never met a mining engineer who has not found something they love and enjoy.

2.    What would you say to current high school students looking to study Engineering at UNSW?

UNSW has a fantastic reputation for its engineering program amongst industry, so it will set you up for success. Once you get to university make sure you throw yourself into the social aspects of university life whether that be clubs and societies, sport, networking events or a residential college. Study is important but university is so much more than that.

You will be offered many opportunities in your time here. Say yes to everything that interests you but stop and start saying no before you get to the point of burnout.

3.    How do you think your studies at UNSW will help in your career aspirations?

UNSW has offered me many networking opportunities which have helped to shape and achieve my career aspirations. When I first started my degree, I was not sure exactly where it would lead me after graduation. However, through the large variety of networking events offered by the UNSW mining engineering school and student societies, I have had the chance to talk to many people in industry which showed me all the different direction I could take my career. Thus, this helped to shape my career aspirations and ultimately help me decide where I want to go and secure those opportunities.

The skills and content that I have learnt during my time at UNSW has set me up with a good baseline knowledge of the mining industry which has prepared me for the workforce. UNSW’s reputation as a quality engineering university may have played a role in helping me secure a graduate position.

4.    Can you share something about the mining industry that might interest someone considering studies and a career in this industry?

Mining engineering is surrounded by understandable stigma – the industry has a lot to improve, apologise and atone for. But at the end of the day, we need minerals and metals for our technology, our renewable energy, and our infrastructure, all of which will help us build a more sustainable and climate safe future.

Once we accept that we need mining the only question left is how do we make it as environmentally and socially sustainable as possible. UNSW and our professors create a clear emphasis on this and ask us to strive for the ‘best practice’ in all our projects, even if it is above and beyond current industry standard. I believe this learning and the new generation coming through will continue the current positive shift we are seeing in the industry.

Mining generates so much profit and is so intimately linked to the communities in which it operates – this gives mining a lot of power and influence. However, I believe that with the right push from investors, leadership, regulation and changing industry attitudes, this power and influence can be used for good. Being a part of that is what makes me so excited about getting involved in this industry

5.    What was your pathway into UNSW

I came to UNSW directly from high school; however, I did move to New South Wales from Queensland. I would encourage all students to look at UNSW Scholarships and the Co-Op program as well as consider residential colleges as these were what made my university experience and transition so smooth and fun.

6.    Is there anything else that you would like to share about the benefits of your UNSW experience?

Mining engineering is a really small cohort which is nice because you see the same people in your classes and at our frequent social events. We support each other through our classes and there is a real sense of camaraderie. Future students should be excited for this and all the social/networking events (free food!) that we throw.