E-news Issue 6
Monday, 09 August 2021
Charles Darwin University
CDU Engineering student Toby Snaire has won the 2020 Engineers Australia Graduate Award for outstanding performance.
CDU Engineering student Toby Snaire has won the 2020 Engineers Australia Graduate Award for outstanding performance.

From uni drop out to Engineers Australia Graduate Award winner

After an incomplete attempt at university in his teens, Toby Snaire never imagined that one day he would win the prestigious Engineers Australia Graduate Award.

The award was presented to the highest-performing graduate from each participating university as part of the Engineers Australia Territory Awards.

Mr Snaire chose to study Engineering at Charles Darwin University (CDU) after working alongside mechanical engineers at the Argyle Diamond Mine in Western Australia.

“Their work was a lot more interesting than what I was doing in the warehouse, and I knew I needed a new challenge to keep me interested,” Mr Snaire said. He found returning to university at the age of 42, many years after his last attempt at a tertiary degree, to be challenging but extremely stimulating.

“At first, I was juggling study with full-time fly-in-fly-out work and I completed first year that way over four semesters. It was exciting and rewarding but completely exhausting,” he said.

Mr Snaire eventually quit his job and moved from Perth to Darwin to devote his energies to full-time study.

“The opportunity to study part-time and externally with CDU was my big break into engineering,” Mr Snaire said. 

“If not for that I would never have started and I know many students in the same position. I was just one of the lucky ones who could make the move and finish the degree in a shorter timeframe.

His path to engineering was indirect but engineering is his dream career.

“As a kid, I always enjoyed pulling things apart and occasionally even got them back together,” he said.

“After school, my friends all went into engineering. I wasn’t ready then and spent a few years trying out different courses before leaving university to work.”

“But I was always held back by a lack of qualifications and technical know-how, so it was a natural progression to go back to university and make a new start.

Mr Snaire now works as a Process Engineer at FedEx Express in Perth, Western Australia. He thanked the staff and students of CDU for their support and friendship.

“Without them I would not have made it. Going back to university was the best thing I ever did,” he said.