Student story: Corelle Forster

Corelle Forster

Corelle Forster
Undergraduate engineer at Leighton Contractors (a CIMIC Group company)
Currently studying a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in Civil Engineering

"I'm now in my final year of the four-year civil engineering degree. When I relocated to the NSW North Coast several years ago with my husband (from Parkes in Central NSW) it was an opportunity to change career. Having already been in the workforce in an office environment I wanted to have a career where I could work both outside and inside. SCU was offering the engineering degree which was right up my alley.

"I was fortunate to get work locally on the construction of Roads and Maritime Services' Pacific Highway upgrade project near Ballina. As an undergraduate engineer, I get to work with planners and construction crews involved in the construction of roads and bridge structures. Some of the things I do include the creation of construction lots, collation of works to be completed, including organising materials, and labour required to complete works. Once the work starts, monitoring is conducted through testing and documentation. At the end of the job, paperwork is completed with appropriate approvals for the completion of works. It's a rewarding process as you get to arrange the job, see the job happen and finalise the job.

"Working part-time while studying has been fantastic because uni gives me the theoretical knowledge and my job gives me the practical experience and enables me to see engineering in action. When I'm at uni I'm able to ask more in-depth questions and get a deeper understanding.

"My employer fully supports my studies. They know it's a good thing because when I've finished my studies I will have greater knowledge of engineering in construction. They give me time off for my exams and to study. Communication and time management are most important, so when I have free time I let them know and they take me up on those extra days.

"My favourite part about my job is the people I work with. Not only do I get to learn road and bridge construction from them, but I get to see and be part of the human side of engineering. I am part of a great team. It's not just about building stuff but also how it is built, which is all about people.

"Engineering and, in my experience, construction is often viewed as a man's job. Being a woman in this industry can be viewed as a negative thing. I have found it to be an advantage. Many companies know the value a woman's perspective can bring to a team, and that not having a good balance of men and women on a team could be a disadvantage. Therefore many companies have a desire to employ more woman. This to me is an advantage. It means if I do well and prove my abilities I have as much of an opportunity to make a difference in the engineering field as anyone else.

"SCU Lismore campus for engineering students is fantastic. Along with the Learning Centre, we have a new engineering building with state-of-the-art labs and all the equipment you can think of.

"The course is stimulating, I've learned lots. It's driven me to strive for bigger and better things. For me university is also about the people and the friendships. I love the networking opportunities that come from being at uni and forming bonds with friends who will be lifelong connections."