Electrical engineering students in the Hunter are set to see greater training and career opportunities thanks to a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Transgrid and the University of Newcastle. 

The new partnership follows Transgrid officially opening its new Transmission Testing and Commissioning Lab at its Newcastle depot, which will be a key facility for student training and career development.

Transgrid and the University of Newcastle will develop opportunities for electrical engineering students including cadetships, scholarships, research, and employment as Australia transitions to a clean energy future.

The MoU includes:

  • Investigating sponsorship, scholarship, cadetship, and graduate opportunities for students, including those from diverse and Indigenous backgrounds
  • Training and career pathways for electrical engineering students at Transgrid’s Newcastle Transmission Testing and Commissioning Lab
  • Investigating other educational programs relevant to the transmission and renewables industry including research projects, student placement opportunities and courses
  • Sharing information on the pipeline of graduates in electrical engineering and working collaboratively on local training and employment opportunities in the electricity industry
  • Investigating opportunities to jointly upskill people from the mining and power generation industries to transition to the transmission industry

Transgrid Executive General Manager of Delivery, Craig Stallan, said the partnership is an important part of investing in the region. 

“For decades the Hunter has been at the heart of our energy industry and this partnership will build upon that rich history by supporting the education, training and career development of the skilled energy workforce of tomorrow,” Mr Stallan said.

“Over the next five to ten years, Transgrid’s projects will require hundreds of skilled workers including electrical design engineers, commissioning engineers, civil engineers and asset engineers.”

Transgrid’s Newcastle Transmission Testing and Commissioning Lab will improve the efficiency of network operations and project delivery.

“The Newcastle facility will be the network headquarters for testing and commissioning of substation secondary systems including protection, metering, and control equipment,” Mr Stallan said.

“It will allow our staff to carry out testing and commissioning faster and safer and ensure everything is working correctly before they head out into the field to install the equipment in our substations.

“The new facility will be critical for testing and commissioning of equipment for the Waratah Super Battery’s System Integrity Protection Scheme. This equipment will be installed at 20 substations around New South Wales and help trigger the super battery into action when required and dial down energy elsewhere in the grid to balance supply.”

University of Newcastle Vice Chancellor, Professor Alex Zelinsky, explained the importance of these local industry partnerships for students. 

“There is a place for every student at our University and we are committed to providing our students with an outstanding education that makes them highly employable graduates,”  Mr Zelinsky said.

“Data from the Australian Skills Commission report in 2021 found 75 per cent of employers look for experience before considering an applicant, while 40 per cent of roles are given to someone known to the employer, so we see gaining workplace experience as critical to creating highly skilled graduates with strong industry connections. 

“We are fortunate to have a strong network of supportive organisations and businesses, like Transgrid, that are passionate about providing our students with opportunities for real-world experience and from this year every undergraduate student at our university will undertake practical placement as part of their degrees. 

“Planning with Transgrid has already started to create a pathway for students to gain firsthand experience designing and operating electricity supply – a clear example of how this partnership will benefit students and industry.” 

Transgrid Acting General Manager of Infrastructure Delivery, Michael Dunkley, who completed a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Newcastle in 2009, welcomed the MoU.

Mr Dunkley, who started as a graduate engineer with Transgrid 13 years ago, said the partnership would provide students with extensive practical experience and help drive their careers.

“I think back to when I was a university graduate and I would have grabbed an opportunity like this with both hands,” Mr Dunkley said.

“As a commissioning engineer, you are testing and installing the equipment that you might want to go and design one day and having that field experience puts you in a great position for other opportunities.  

“Transgrid is a really exciting place to work and the scope of opportunity over the next ten to 15 years is enormous as we accelerate the clean energy transition.”


Feature image: Signing of MoU. Provided by Transgrid.

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