Summer research success for engineering students

Through the Summer Research Scholarship programme, Victoria University partners with companies, government agencies, and professional groups to provide 10-week placements for some of the top performing students.

Former Summer Research Scholars from the School of Engineering and Computer Science George, Ikram, and Rajiv shared their experiences with the programme and their tips for applying in 2018.

Ikram spent his Summer Research Scholarship placement at the Measurement Standards Laboratory (MSL), based at Callaghan Innovation, where he developed software that the scientists at the laboratory could use to perform measurement analysis.

“I was eager to do something over the summer break that would be beneficial for my studies,” Ikram says. “I was able to apply all the engineering skills I’ve learned as part of my degree and see how effective they are in a real work environment. I also gained a lot of new skills from my time at MSL.”

George, who spent his Summer Research Scholarship placement at GNS Science, agrees.

“I was able to take the skills I learned in the classroom and apply them to achieve a real result, rather than working to a marking schedule.”

For Rajiv, who worked at the Building Research Association of New Zealand (BRANZ), the best part of the Summer Research Scholarship programme was meeting a wide variety of people.

“I met many people with different backgrounds and levels of work experience,” Rajiv says. “Learning how they developed their careers gave me a new view on what sort of career I wanted to pursue.”

All three said adjusting to the work environment was a challenge, especially when it came to communicating with different people and completing projects that involved a broader range of skills, unlike the more prescriptive style of university assignments.

“Being in the work environment required more self-discipline to make progress,” Rajiv says. “But the broader nature of the work gave me a lot of opportunities to explore different methods and use practical skills.”

Rajiv says he thinks work experience is always beneficial before starting a full-time job, because it helps you gain workplace skills before you start a full-time role.

For George, the biggest benefit he gained from his Summer Research Scholarship was the job he now has at GNS Science. For Ikram, it’s the improvement in his communication skills.

“My communication skills have improved drastically and I now find it easy to deliver concepts to any audience,” he says. “I’ve had to give presentations for several of my engineering papers, and the skills I learned during my Summer Research Scholarship have really helped with this work.”

Unsurprisingly, all three students said their Summer Research Scholarship was very worthwhile. All three advise students thinking about applying for a scholarship to find out as much as they can about the role they want, and to get the most out of it by thinking about what they want to achieve and making use of all the support students get during the programme.