Graduate Success: Todd Rowling Talks of Becoming an Electrical Engineer

We spoke to Todd Rowling a former participant of the Indigenous Australian Engineering Summer School (IAESS), a program run by Engineering Aid Australia. After his time at IAESS, Todd scored an engineering cadetship at Ausgrid, where he worked as an undergraduate engineer while also studying electrical engineering at Sydney University. Todd is now enjoying a thriving career as an electrical engineer and took the time to chat with us about his path to success.

Australia has been historically known as the land of a ‘fair go’. While the truthfulness of this statement is debatable nowadays, it’s certainly a sentiment the great people behind the charitable organisation, Engineering Aid Australia (EAA), believe in.

EAA is an organisation dedicated to introducing the field of engineering to Indigenous high school students and encouraging those interested to pursue a career in the profession. They do this by offering free yearly summer schools called the Indigenous Australian Engineering Summer School (IAESS), where students from around Australia spend time at a university and receive a hands-on introduction to engineering. EAA also supports these Indigenous students by providing financial assistance to help them complete their secondary education and gain entry into university. Once at university, EAA assists students in finding work experience and career opportunities (like cadetships) with engineering companies and firms. Basically, EAA acts as a valuable a mentor to these students throughout their schooling and the early stages of their career.

For over a decade, EAA has helped Indigenous high school students successfully pursue engineering careers. Todd Rowling is one such student. A student at  Engadine High, based in Sydney’s Sutherland Shire, Todd always had a passion for designing and making things.

“I was the kid who enjoyed spending lunch times making small steam engines,” said Todd.

Todd first learnt of Engineering Aid Australia from his PE teacher who suggested he apply for the summer school.

“I was incredibly fortunate to enjoy two years at IAESS  in 2006 and 2007. One at the start of year 11 and the second at start of my HSC year. Both years were amazing. It was great to meet different people from so many varied backgrounds, many kids were from very remote areas in Australia,” said Todd.

During one of his IAESS experiences, Todd and 20 other students visited the University of New South Wales and learned about all the different types of engineering. Each morning the students visited a different engineering faculty at the university followed by a site visit to a facility in line with that discipline.

Although he always had an interest in engineering, before IAESS Todd says he really had no idea what an engineer actually did or how diverse the profession was.

“There are so many different areas of engineering you can work in and so many sub disciplines too,” said Todd.

Upon graduating high school Todd began a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Sydney. As well as studying, he began a cadetship with Ausgrid where he worked as an undergraduate engineer.

“It was an incredibly busy 5 years but the experience was great and it really made uni go fast,” said Todd.

Todd was one of those lucky people who know very early on what profession he was interested in pursuing. When asked what kind of people he thinks would enjoy studying an engineering degree Todd said: “I think the sort of people who may enjoy engineering as a career are those whom have a genuine interest in how things work. Some people are  happy being doers, while others have a greater depth of interest in trying to understand why things happen— and they become engineers”.

To those who already know they want to become electrical engineers, Todd gives them a big thumbs up. Electrical engineering, unlike some other professions, is not a flailing industry.

“I can't see how you can go far wrong. More and more devices are powered by electricity and demand continues to grow. The challenges of emerging technologies underpin the need to advance and evolve electricity supply”, said Todd.