UNSW Canberra engineering students gathered on Thursday for a night of networking with leaders of the industry.

The Engineering Pitch to Industry was a ‘speed dating-style’ event that saw 50 students meet with representatives from 15 Canberra-based engineering organisations for a series of quick-fire interviews.

Event organiser and UNSW Canberra research associate Dr Heba El-Fiqi said it can be difficult for students to secure their first internship.

“Without such engagement opportunities, most of the students have limited knowledge about what career path options they have, and what the work environment will look like,” she said.

“As the Women in Engineering (WIE) team, we envisioned an event that embraced diversity and inclusion that showcased the skills and calibre of our undergraduate and higher degree research students.

“The WIE team themselves represent the diversity here, with alumni from international, local and military backgrounds, as well as current students with similar backgrounds.”

Organisations included cyber security firm and event sponsor Penten, UNSW Canberra spin-off space company Skykraft and international heavyweight KPMG.

Kimberley Smith networks with industry representatives.

Defence student Kimberley Smith said the evening was a good opportunity to gain an insight into the civilian world.

The third-year mechanical engineering student will be a Marine Engineering Officer in the Navy after completing her degree, but she thinks she may eventually end up working in industry.

“A lot of industry works around Defence and does the technical side of things, which is kind of cool,” Kimberley said.

For Aya Hussein, a civilian PhD student researching human-machine interaction, it was a chance to network with companies she may work with in the future.

“It’s really the right time to start meeting with industry to align your research with them,” Aya said.

“In between your research you see opportunities for applying what you learnt in university to real-life programs. I think it will be a really goo­d opportunity to se­­e what their interests are.”

Aya Hussein discusses her PhD research.

Penten Directors and UNSW Canberra alumni Kristian Howard and Alison Lee said they were looking forward to connecting with engineering students.

More than one-quarter of Penten’s employees are ADF veterans and they hoped to talk to students about potential pathways beyond Defence. 

Engineering Pitch to Industry was sponsored by Penten.

“What we can do is talk to them about the kind of skills that are important for us as an employer, and if they were to transition from Defence at some point in time, how they could be applied inside industry as well,” Mr Howard said.

Dr El-Fiqi said many UNSW Canberra alumni are now leaders within industry.

“This was an opportunity for industry to engage with our students early and meet potential future employees, interns and forge new networks,” Dr El-Fiqi said.