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MCA & BHP Billiton award scholarships to boost female participation in mining

30 May 2014

Award Recipients 2014 Minerals Week

The business case for more women in engineering is clear-cut: encouraging more women into engineering programs increases the talent pool, which in turn increases efficiency and productivity in the aligned industries. The Australian minerals industry gets this, and the BHP Billiton-Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) Women in Engineering Scholarship recognizes achievement at University-level.

On Wednesday 28th May 2014, the MCA presented six scholarships in two categories to boost the participation of young female engineers and train the next batch of female board members.

The winners of the 2014-15 of the BHP Billiton-MCA Women in Engineering Scholarship are Holly Kiely and Annette Au. Both winners have excellent academic records and a wide involvement in extracurricular activities, both on-campus and off-campus.

Identifying the next generation of talented female engineers

The BHP Billiton–MCA partnership is helping identify the next generation of talented female engineers. Now in its seventh year, the award is open to all female undergraduate engineering students studying in Australia and provides $8,000 per annum for the final two years of study. It aims to advance the role of women in the resources sector.

In 2014, there was a strong field of 96 applicants for the scholarship, showing that there is a deep talent pool of women studying engineering disciplines – this will help achieve our goal of increasing the number of female engineers in the minerals sector.

The remaining four scholarships were awarded to women for board studies, in conjunction with member companies BHP Billiton and Downer Mining

Kalgoorlie Produces more than just Gold

Holly Kiely grew up in the gold-mining town of Kalgoorie, about 600km east of Perth, where she grew a passion for netball. At around the time she was planning to study at the local Kalgoorlie university campus (Curtin University) she was selected for the Western Australia state netball team. This meant relocating to Perth, where she enrolled in a Bachelor of Mining Engineering at Curtin University, and balanced both part-time work and her netball commitments. Now into her fifth and final year of study, Holly ensured she took every opportunity to learn about the minerals industry and the role she will undertake:

Over the past 4 years of my degree, I have gained a year’s worth of practical experience during the vacation periods. I have enjoyed working in nickel and gold operations. Some of the companies include KCGM, La Mancha resources, Western Areas NL and Goldfields St. Ives operation.

Holly has also enjoyed being the Vice President of the WASM wombats. The WASM wombats represent the university at the national and international mining games competitions. Holly recently returned from the United States and captained her team to winner her division in a pool of 18 other teams.

Engineering Personal Growth and Development

Annette is a Mining Engineering student at the University of New South Wales. She’s an ambassador for Engineers Australia Sydney Women in Engineering and is pioneering the first EA Sydney WIE Experience It! Student Conference, aimed at attracting secondary school female students to study engineering at a tertiary institution. A member of the UNSW WIE Student Leadership Team and ambassador for the UNSW Faculty of Engineering, Annette advises students on engineering, its careers and applications; and shares her skills, experiences and passion for the minerals and mining industry with others.

Annette has completed two undergraduate internships in Australia, and has visited 13 different mine sites across NSW, SA and the United States of America. Empowering women in engineering through engaging programs and pathways, Annette strives to make consistent contributions towards the personal and professional development of women in the sector.

How to Engineer Your Own Success?

So what can we learn from Holly and Annette? To be sure, a demonstrated commitment to your studies is important, but potential employers, or judges of awards, want more than just impressive academic results (what employers look for has been documented here). Holly demonstrated desirable team work and leadership through her involvement in the WA State Netball Team and WASM Wombats, and commitment to her future industry through work experience opportunities. Annette has also demonstrated leadership through UNSW WIE but also a commitment to her discipline through her work with Engineering Australia, and as a student advisor, and work to empower women in engineering.

Students looking to enter the minerals industry can take away this from Holly and Annette:

  • Demonstrate commitment to studies
  • Demonstrate commitment to discipline/industry e.g. vacation work or internship
  • Demonstrated desire to work in teams and the uptake of leadership opportunities.
  • A passion for what you do.

As the competition for graduate roles and scholarships becomes more competitive, understanding and learning from how employers and judges select the candidates is very useful information.

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