A ‘leap of faith’ by a far north Queensland sugar mill has landed electrical engineer Matthew White his first role in sugar processing thanks to his demonstrated initiative, enthusiasm and professionalism.

MSF Sugar Mulgrave Mill recently employed the CQ University engineering graduate following experience gained from a series of sugar mill work placements through the Sugar Research Institute Scholarship program.

“When I first went for the scholarship I hadn’t really considered or heard of the sugar industry … I knew it existed but I never really considered electrical engineers going in and so the program got me interested,” Mr White said.

“There’s no electrical engineers on staff at this mill. Being an electrical engineer that’s a bit of a leap of faith for the company. And so having SRI behind me gives them a bit of a reason to take that leap of faith.

“On the other side, there was additional justification on the mill’s end with a short term project coming in where it would be nice to have the skills in-house rather than a very expensive contractor doing it for them.”

According to MSF Sugar Mulgrave Mill manager Chris Hoare, candidates that pose the best employment opportunity are usually students with a basic, but broad knowledge base.

“This doesn’t mean they need a wealth of work experience or expertise – the candidate who is tinkering on a project in their own time or has shown good initiative to problem solving and thinking outside the box are of high value,” Mr Hoare said.

“Matt has a good understanding of electrical engineering and his enthusiasm to learn and push through design problems has been exceptional. His professionalism during working hours, prior industry experience and references also helped greatly.

Matthew is already on his first project to assist with the electrical design of a rail measurement vehicle used to autonomously measure rail faults and report faults back to the control room for follow up by work crews.

“Straight in the deep end as you’d expect. Getting thrown in with a very well rounded engineer who has balanced the project management and delegation quite well so that when I walk in the door there were things to jump into,” Mr White explained.

“It was more than just an introduction to the project but there were tasks to immediately get on top of. And so we’ve progressed faster than planned and I’m starting work on some of the technical work.”

Matthew’s tip for students interested in a scholarship?

“Enthusiasm definitely helps. Before you get the scholarship and after as well because you’re surrounded by enthusiastic people who are interested in their jobs and it’s really big value,” Mr White said.

Applications are now open for the Sugar Research Institute Scholarship awarded to students in their penultimate year studying chemical, mechanical, process or electrical engineering or science degrees with an interest in working in the Australian sugar processing industry.  For more information visit: www.sri.org.au/sris-sugar-research-institute-scholarship/