GAF Story

Ned Prescott

University of Wollongong
Bachelor of Engineering (Honours)

Headshot of student smiling.

Learn how Ned found his passion for electrical engineering and what he will be up to as a student ambassador for Engineers Australia. 

What motivated you to study for a Bachelor of Engineering?

I have always loved problem solving and found high school subjects in the STEM areas (chemistry, physics, maths and engineering) most interesting, probably because I liked the fact that there was a way to know if your answer was ‘correct’ more so than in other subjects. Studying engineering at the University of Wollongong largely reflects the fact that it is a cross-section of problem-solving and STEM disciplines.

Beyond my personal interest, I was also encouraged to consider studying engineering through my attendance at the Honeywell Engineering Summer School, which Engineers Australia convened in Sydney in the summer holidays between 2019 and 2020. A group of high-school friends and I made the trip up from Wagga Wagga to attend. The summer school allowed students to explore industrial engineering workplaces and visit the universities where we would likely end up studying to attend short lectures and labs and look at the research that they were completing. This experience cemented that engineering was the path for me, although at that point I wasn’t sure what type of engineer I wanted to be.

Why did you decide to focus on electrical engineering?

The decision to study electrical engineering came at the start of 2021 when I was approached by a representative from one of the industrial visits, I completed at the summer school and offered a cadetship. I had already decided that I would be moving to Wollongong and studying engineering with a flexible first year, so requested a placement with Transport for NSW in Wollongong so that I would be close enough to work alongside my studies. I was offered a place within Sydney Trains Engineering and Maintenance, working in rail signalling. Since this is a primarily electrical discipline, I chose to follow an electrical engineering pathway within my degree.

What does a typical week at university look like for you?

My typical university week involves 2 days at work with my cadetship and 3 days attending lectures, tutorials, and laboratories. Working with a cadetship is a great opportunity to build practical skills and put my studies into practice alongside my course work, which is mainly theory-based.

How do you take care of your well-being and prevent burnout while studying?

I am probably not as good at this as I should be – I try to manage my well-being by getting enough sleep (usually 8 and a half hours per night is about right), going to the gym, listening to and playing music, and spending time with friends, whether that be watching TV, going out for dinner or a drink, playing sport or just catching up and doing a bit of collaborative study.

In my experience being a bit burnt out by the end of the semester is unavoidable. University can be a bit of a slog at times, given the amount of work in preparing final reports and sitting exams, so I also think it’s important to make good use of the mid-semester breaks and university holidays by spending time relaxing with a book or at the beach and making time to visit family and friends at home in Wagga.

Tell us about your role as a student ambassador for Engineers Australia.

This year, I have been fortunate enough to be selected as an ambassador for Engineers Australia at the University of Wollongong. Engineers Australia performs many roles, including accrediting engineering degrees and supporting training for young engineers. I am excited to see what the year ahead brings and look forward to chatting with new students at orientation events, performing outreach in schools, attending careers fairs, and helping to organise and run skills sessions and networking events for engineering students in Wollongong.

Unfortunately, UOW currently lacks an engineering student’s society that is open to all disciplines, so I am hopeful that the Engineers Australia ambassador team will be able to improve student engagement and collaboration between students studying different types of engineering this year as well.

How has a George Alexander Foundation scholarship supported your studies? 

My scholarship has greatly enabled my studies and successes at the University of Wollongong. Given my ambitions to study engineering, I had no option but to move away from Wagga Wagga to access a tertiary-level engineering education. Moving away from home naturally represented a significant cost to myself and my family. My GAF scholarship has essentially allowed me to work fewer hours to pay my rent and afford food, study materials, bills and so on, while also helping me to be relatively financially independent and not ask for large sums of money from my family just to get by. Ultimately, this has allowed me to spend more time doing things I enjoy and looking after my well-being, which in turn has allowed me to achieve high scores in my degree.

Do you have any big-picture goals for the future? 

Nothing is set in stone so far, but I am hopeful that I will be able to achieve first-class honours at the completion of my degree, and that this will lead to me getting into a graduate program that I will find interesting and engaging, whether this be in the infrastructure industry or elsewhere.

I am also looking forward to hopefully being able to spend some time (probably a few months) after my graduation and before taking on a graduate position, travelling internationally, especially through Europe, which has been an ambition of mine since before the COVID pandemic struck when I was part way through Year 12.

Stirling Jeans, RMIT University scholar. Young man in grey shirt.
Georgia McDonald, Griffith University Scholar. Young woman wearing a red top smiling and standing in front of a lake.
Tara Cherian, JCU scholar during work experience placement

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