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Sustainability, socialising and studying abroad: Shannon’s story

This article appears in: Engineering, High school to uni, Learning abroad
Engineering student Shannon Kieran

Shannon always had her sights set on CDU for when she finished Year 12. Now armed with a Bachelor of Engineering Science and Master of Engineering (Civil and Structural), Shannon thinks a university experienced filled with socialising, studying hard and studying abroad made her a “well-rounded young engineer”.

Shannon always loved exploring the sciences at school, but engineering spoke to her practical side.

“I loved the idea of learning how the world works and then implementing practical changes to create direct improvements to communities,” she says.

This led me to pursue engineering, because engineers are people who look at problems and say: "We can fix that."

As a local NT resident, CDU was the obvious choice when choosing universities. Not only was it close to home, but it also offered unique opportunities that would open doors down the track.

The ultimate university experience

Shannon Kieran and ESS Committee at engineering event

Shannon jumped head-first into student life, representing students on the CDU Student Services and Amenities Fees Committee and serving as a PASS leader to help other engineering students.

Shannon excelled in her studies, winning scholarships and multiple awards for outstanding achievement and commitment, but she knew that socialising is a vital part of the university experience.

“In my first year, I met a couple of higher-year engineering students and we started the CDU Engineering Students Society to help everyone socialise,” she says. “The ESS has been like a second family to me.”

 “All of these experiences have been really beneficial in ensuring I am a well-rounded young engineer and have been critical in building my confidence and soft skills so that I’m able to excel in industry.”

Striving for sustainability

Shannon Kieran studying abroad in rural Indonesia

During her studies, Shannon travelled to rural Indonesia on a humanitarian research trip that was the basis of a design project and research thesis.

This experience researching agricultural flooding issues only confirmed her passion for sustainability, an issue that remains close to her heart.

Shannon’s career goal is to work somewhere that’s leading the way in environmental consciousness, implementing new technologies and more integrated ways of building.

I want to feel like every project I’m involved in is contributing to a better future.

As a graduate structural engineer, she's been providing structural engineering design and construction support services across a range of sectors and unique projects in the NT.

One of her projects has brought her right back to her university days. Shannon is in the design team completing the detailed design for the new CDU Educational Precinct in the city.

“It’s also been interesting because while I was a student, I was invited to the master planning workshops to represent CDU students. Now, 2.5 years later, I’m able to see how the project has evolved and changed.”

Even now, Shannon’s still connected to the engineering student and wider engineering community.

She’s an industry mentor at Casuarina Senior College, serves on the Engineers Australia Northern Division Committee, and was recently awarded the National Association of Women in Construction NT Young Achiever Award.

Tips for new uni students

Engineering student Shannon Kieran

Shannon admits that while the first year can be nerve-wracking, going out of your way to make connections helps enormously.

Find people who either share your enthusiasm for doing well, or who will infect you with their enthusiasm for getting things done.

“Don't just look to your own year level for study buddies either. Higher-year students can share invaluable knowledge and experiences,” she adds.

And for any current or future engineering students out there, Shannon highly recommends networking.

“Start making a name for yourself,” she says. “So much about engineering is all about the connections you make. Join Engineers Australia (it’s free for students), go to events, take up a voluntary leadership role. Once you put your name out there and people start recognising you, that opens the door for getting work placement opportunities and jobs.”

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