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From the Navy to Engineering, via rural India: Meet Dion

This article appears in: Changing careers, Learning abroad, Trades
Dion in India at the markets

From working as an Electrical Marine Technician in the Navy, enrolling in a Bachelor of Engineering, to eventually finding himself in Western India as part of an Engineers Without Borders Summit, CDU student Dion Morrow’s path to becoming an Electrical Engineer as certainly been an interesting one. Here, Dion explains what led him to CDU, and why his trip to India highlighted the way in which engineering and humanitarian efforts can be linked. 

 My path to Engineering at CDU

Most of my career has been spent in the Royal Australian Navy, working as an Electrical Marine Technician. After leaving the Defence Force, I worked for a civilian construction company but I quickly felt that I was no longer learning anything new.

My fondest experience in the Navy was working within one very tight-knit engineering team of technicians that would share knowledge and insights freely among each other. For example, if anyone went away on a course and learnt something new, they would teach the rest of the department what they learnt upon their return to the unit.

CDU student Dion Morrow with two peers in India


The Bachelor of Electrical Engineering degree seemed like the logical step that would prepare me for the future where I might want to get “off the tools” and into more management focused roles.

Throughout my career as a tradesperson, I have often found the most reward in fault-finding and problem-solving. I’m hopeful that my Engineering degree will give me the qualifications and the confidence to do that on a much larger scale.

Travelling to India as part of my degree

In December 2017, as a lucky recipient of the New Colombo Plan grant, I went to India to attend a Design Summit delivered by Engineers Without Borders as part of the CDU course CUC106 – Design and Innovation: Communicating Technology. We went to Ahmedabad in Gujarat to attend workshops before heading out of the city to the more rural community in Dhrangadhra, and then out to visit some salt farmers in the small town of Kuda.


The highlight of my experience in India was to learn and understand that the way some things are achieved in Australia isn’t necessarily the way it’s done abroad. It’s ok if things are done differently. It was the first time in ages that I worked with others. To do it so far from home was a thoroughly rewarding experience.

Learning first-hand about humanitarian engineering from people that have excellent experience in this field was so beneficial. I listened to, shared experiences with and learned from some truly inspirational people.

One of the things I found most exciting about the trip was realising that even I – a future Engineer – could have something to offer in the humanitarian space.

If I had one piece of advice to offer anyone considering studying overseas, it would be: just do it. Like most things, the experience is what you make of it. It’s easy to forget when you’re at home studying in a closed-off little bubble, but there’s a great big world out there.

Find out more about studying Engineering at CDU. If you’re a CDU student, discover more about opportunities to study overseas

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