Next wave of STEM scholarships helps build future of renewable energy | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Next wave of STEM scholarships helps build future of renewable energy

A partnership between the University of the Sunshine Coast and Queensland Hydro is growing the pipeline of local talent equipped for careers in engineering though a new STEM scholarship program for students.

Queensland Hydro 2023 scholarship recipients Matthias Kauffman and Alyssa Mantarro.

Applications are now open for the next round of scholarships, also designed to benefit the Sunshine Coast, Wide Bay and Gympie regions through funding long-term workforce development, giving more locals job-ready skills now and into the future.

Matthias Kauffman, a second-year mechanical engineering student from Gympie, is one of four UniSC students each awarded a $10,000 bursary this year from Queensland Hydro, a publicly owned entity established to help deliver the state’s clean energy future.

“The whole renewables energy sector is something I find truly fascinating so it’s an honour to receive this scholarship,” said Matthias, who is interested in a career in infrastructure development, with a focus on his local region, when he graduates.

“I’m also excited to know that this STEM scholarships program will provide pathways for current and future students to become engineers, or local students wanting to work in construction roles, whether it’s on pumped hydro or other renewable energy projects in the region.”  

Second-year civil UniSC engineering student Alyssa Mantarro, from the Sunshine Coast, is also passionate about using her degree to pursue a career in the renewables sector.

“The Queensland Hydro scholarship has been such a wonderful benefit for me this year as it has allowed me to completely focus on my engineering studies and not feel the pressure of having to do a lot of part time work to support myself.” 

UniSC Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Helen Bartlett, said Alyssa and Mattias would graduate with the skills to make an impact in renewable energy.

“We are thrilled that they are preparing for a future in engineering with sustainability in mind, and that their efforts will be supported by Queensland Hydro, which has a fantastic ethos of nurturing the workforce talent of tomorrow,” she said.

“Sustainable development is an enormous focus at UniSC, where we have reduced our energy use by 40 percent with a solar-powered ‘water battery’ and implemented ways to minimise water use on campus, which has contributed to our recognition as third in the world for Clean Water and Sanitation in the 2023 Times Higher Education Rankings.”

The scholarship program helps to support and shape the work force of the future for Queensland Hydro’s two pumped hydro projects at Lake Borumba, near Imbil, and at Pioneer-Burdekin outside Mackay.

UniSC students have until 30 November to apply for the Queensland Hydro Scholarship. Priority is given to students who resided around the Borumba Project footprint.

Dean of UniSC's School of Science, Technology and Engineering Professor Stuart Parsons, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Global & Engagement) Alex Elibank Murray, Matthias Kauffman, Alyssa Mantarro, Queensland Hydro Borumba Project Director Leah McKenzie and Member for Nicklin Rob Skelton.

Borumba Project Director Leah McKenzie said the Queensland Hydro was delighted to be able to support University of Sunshine Coast engineering students like Alyssa and Matthias, as well as the next wave of scholarship winners.

“We believe it’s an exciting and unique opportunity for them to receive financial support and some inspiration from a project which is a centrepiece of the renewable energy transformation,” she said.

“In this current climate of cost-of-living pressures, these scholarships will also help provide some relief for students who have demonstrated a financial need as well as fulfilling other key criteria.

“They are also designed to bring benefit to the region through supporting long-term workforce development, giving more locals job-ready skills now and into the future.

“Queensland Hydro will inject tens of millions of dollars into the local regional economy over coming years and, if given the go ahead, the Borumba project will create over 2000 construction jobs once construction hits full speed in 2025.”  

Member for Nicklin Rob Skelton said the Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan outlined how Queensland’s energy system would transform to deliver clean, reliable and affordable energy to provide power for generations with a focus on driving regional economic opportunities and creating thousands of jobs in the regions.

“A vital component of this is providing our future workforce with the support to be part of that and the student engineers of today will form a critical part of the clean energy sector workforce of the future,” he said.

“We have shown a vision for the future through the QEJP, and we want local students and local workers and businesses to be at the heart of this vision and part of the rollout of the big projects like pumped hydro which are the cornerstone of the energy transformation.

“The project is a ‘game-changer’ for the region and hopefully these scholarships are a ‘career-changer’ for the brightest and best engineering students at UniSC, who this scholarship program is helping to support,” he said.

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