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