Lieutenant Luke Pressler was up for any challenge university threw at him while studying civil engineering. 

However, 2021 added an extra layer of complications as Canberra headed into another lockdown. A graduate design course that would usually find him putting in hours in the library with his entire class became an online exercise, while his thesis that was conducted within COVID restrictions.

Luke knew ADFA and UNSW Canberra wouldn’t be easy, and required juggling military commitments with study, but he knew he was on the right career path – after all, he knew he wanted to be in the Australian Army since he was 13 years old. 

“A lot of us have missed birthdays, weddings, funerals and other events, but graduating will make all those sacrifices a bit more worth it,” he said.

There are just 11 others in Luke’s civil engineering class, and they became a family, which was tested during lockdown and military training. 

Their skills will be highly sought after upon graduation, Luke said there is a strong demand for civil engineers.

“Currently Army civil engineers are in demand with a lot of projects happening both domestically and internationally in the near region,” he said.

While at university, Luke worked on an experimental thesis exploring heavy metal contamination of drinking water in the ACT. The comprehensive findings showed that there were heavy metals present in both domestic-supplied drinking water and rain harvested water, with some filtration systems failing to reduce concentrations.

The findings showed that there was metal present in both domestic-supplied drinking water and water from filtered systems. 

For those who will go through ADFA and study at UNSW Canberra he has some advice: “Be prepared for a challenging experience that has great rewards and an awesome career in the future that is part of Australia’s strategic plan.”

The next stop for Luke is eight months of Royal Australian Engineer specific officer training at the School of Military Engineering in Holsworthy, New South Wales.