Swinburne integrates mentoring into its engineering degree

Having the knowledge to succeed in industry requires guidance and foresight, something that Swinburne University of Technology is hoping to provide in the inclusion of mentoring programs in its Bachelor of Engineering Practice (Honours).

Having a mentor who has experience working in a student’s industry of choice enables the student to make smart decisions about their career and be prepared for the demands of work prior to graduating.

“Mentoring gives an insight to the commercial world and helps to bring focus. My own first glimpse of the commercial world was a job interview,” said Dr Elaine Saunders, executive chairman of hearing aid manufacturer Blamey Saunders Hears. Saunders is also chair of Swinburne’s innovation precinct advisory board.

With first-hand experience of what it is like to work as an engineer or in industry, students can be better equipped to understand their future in the workforce.

“There are many aspiring young engineers at university who are apprehensive about their future career but are more than capable of succeeding. As a mentor, I can show them that we all started at the same place and it’s ok not to know all the answers right away,” said Shadack Sallehpour, a senior structural engineer at WSP.

Part of producing a well-rounded student who can succeed further in their career is beginning the journey at a higher education institution, and the support that Swinburne’s Engineering Practice Academy provides is designed to allow students to understand the breadth of the engineering and industry sector.

“It is great to see so many diverse representatives of the engineering industry at the Academy sharing with our students. At the Academy, we say ‘work-ready starts here’ and believe that mentoring is a key element of developing work-ready graduates,” said Felicity Furey, director of industry partnerships at the Academy.

The experience of being a mentor also benefits the industry, as bridges are built between the understandings of different generations who will have to collaborate in work environments.

“I would say you will get back more than you give. Students ask such frank questions — it encourages us to examine our ideas anew,” said Saunders.