Q&A with Mining Engineering Student
“I feel honoured to have been recognised for my contribution to the mining industry, and my dedication to projects that encourage the use of technological solutions within a mining scope of challenges”.
Tara Andresson, an undergraduate student in Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) (Mining) and Bachelor of Science (Computer Science) has been awarded an EEF premium scholarship as well as the 2022 Sir Frank Espie/Rio Tinto Leadership Award. We spoke to Andresson about her achievements, the importance of the mining industry and her plans after graduation. Check out the interview.
1. Congratulations on winning the Sir Frank Espie/Rio Tinto Leadership Award, how do you feel?
I feel honoured to have been recognised for my contribution to the mining industry, and my dedication to projects that encourage the use of technological solutions within a mining scope of challenges. Over the past couple of years, I have tried to embrace all opportunities and it has led to the development of my professional character, leadership skills and technical knowledge. I am very excited to be an ambassador for the AusIMM Education Endowment Fund Scholarship, Rio Tinto, and the mining community at UNSW.
3. Which degree are you currently doing and why did you choose it?
I am currently studying a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) (Mining) and a Bachelor of Science (Computer Science). Originally, I was studying a Bachelor of Engineering with a flexible first year program.
I was a member of the WIESoc mentoring program, and my mentor was a third-year mining engineering student, Lucy Barrie. She encouraged me to consider the opportunities available to a mining engineer, and shared her experiences of vacation work with Glencore in Mt Isa. I was also invited to attend the 2019 New Leaders Conference and National Mining Games in Perth with the rest of the mining cohort.
At the New Leaders Conference, there was an overwhelming support for students entering the industry, and a focus on the future of mining involving automation and internet of things applications. This was inspiring, and definitely something I wanted to be a part of, so I chose to transfer into Mining Engineering and Computer Science.
4. What do you like about your degree and what are your favourite classes?
I enjoy mixing my subjects between Mining Engineering and Computer Science. Often the two complement each other and I learn new techniques for problem solving, analysis and numerical modelling in computing which I can then apply to mining projects in order to excel and provide a more unique and in-depth perspective.
My favourite subjects in mining so far have been VIP MINEX, ventilation, social & environmental aspects of mining and resource estimation. I think these courses have provided the most useful content and soft skills for application in internships and industry work. My favourite subjects in computing have been blockchain applications, object-oriented programming and machine learning and data mining as all courses have given the opportunity to create a real-world project.
5. Did you hold a Scholarship during your study and what has it meant for you to be awarded this Scholarship?
This is my only scholarship during study. It is very rewarding being able to subsidise some of my degree using this scholarship, as it takes the pressure off of finances and allows for more university time.
6. What are your favourite things to do in or around UNSW and how can students make the most out of the UNSW experience?
I think being a part of numerous societies is a really great way to meet more people outside of your degree within UNSW. Furthermore, taking a committee role may provide greater benefits than being just a general member- being a part of the WIESoc committee in my first year and going to a first year engineering camp provided a great basis for networks within the engineering community at UNSW and gave me more confidence to socialise and network in later years.
7. What do you think is the relevance of your degree and why is it important that it exists?
Mining makes up approximately 11.5% of Australia’s economy and produces valuable metals that are used to produce alternative forms of energy production, as well as many of the materials used to manufacture everyday appliances and technology. It is super important for young, female and technically minded mining engineers to be entering the industry at a time where mining is being scrutinised for its contribution to global challenges.
Due to covid and other factors, there is a mining engineering shortage which makes this degree not only relevant, but also a necessity. I think someone with both mining engineering and programming skills is especially relevant in the industry due to the high demand for technological solutions including automation, networks, etc.
8. What are your plans after completing your degree? How do you think your studies at UNSW will help in your career aspirations?
My plans after my degree involve taking on a graduate role with an owner-operated underground metals mining company where I have the opportunity to complete the required underground experience to receive a First Class Mine Manager's Certificate of Competency - Western Australia. Following this, I want to be able to explore technological projects and the duties of a mining engineer within drill and blast, planning and scheduling. In the future, I would like to progress to a higher managerial position, potentially general manager.
9. Can you share something about the minerals and energy industry that might interest someone considering studies and a career in this industry? How do you see the industry evolving?
The minerals and energy industry is super supportive of students. I think it is most important to keep an open mind about job opportunities and always work on expanding and strengthening your network. My focus is definitely on providing safer and more efficient processes within the industry through technological applications. This is a tangible and ever-present aspect of mining that is rapidly growing at the moment. Lots of companies are looking to prepare their engineers as both leaders for the future in problem solving and technical aspects.
10. How do you think more women can fill the talent gap in the minerals and energy industry?
The minerals industry needs motivated, passionate, and talented women. At the moment, women have an advantageous position with many scholarships, mentorships, support networks and job opportunities available within the industry.
I think the easiest way to encourage more women to participate in mining is through ambassadors and mentoring programs such as those covered by WIMNet or via this scholarship. It is a lot easier for other women to become who they see- so building a media and university presence is important in being a good role model.
11. What advice would you give to a new/future student on how to excel at your degree
Make sure you network with other mining students and lecturers in order to build a support group that can provide you with good advice and help when you need it. I have learnt that through group projects and assignments, that planning, and preparation based on older students advice was key to success in all aspects of university, and especially with relation to course work.
“I feel honoured to have been recognised for my contribution to the mining industry, and my dedication to projects that encourage the use of technological solutions within a mining scope of challenges”