Students explore future pathways in engineering and construction.

Rewind to 2022 and as part of Year 10’s Work Exploration Week, a group of students were given the opportunity to visit the construction site of Stage 1 M6 Motorway in Rockdale.

Jasmine Chee, along with 4 other students, Amelie Haddad, Chauntelle Boustani, Sophia Or and Taylor Icanovski, all now in Year 11, tells how the group were given the opportunity to see the M6 tunnel construction first hand.

On the site, the friendly workers spoke to us about the variety of jobs and skills needed in the industry, including communications, safety, and engineers as well as project managers. This opened our minds to the diversity in the field. Construction is not limited to physical labour, but requires collaboration between many jobs.

We were given a safety briefing and taken onto the site where there was a 50m deep tunnel, used to access the main tunnel which would join Kogarah to the M8, easing congestion and providing shortened travel time across Sydney.

We were then introduced to the new roadheader, a piece of machinery with a rotating head used for digging through hard rock. On sites these machines almost became part of the team and a competition was held to name it.

As a group, we came up with the name “Terra”, the Roman goddess of the earth, and a pun on ‘terror’, a reference to the appearance of the roadheader.

We left the site with a new perspective on what goes on in the field of construction, and what sort of paths we could take to achieve a career in that field.

Geared up in PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), our PLC Sydney students and staff gathered in the M6 tunnel to revisited Terra the Roadheader.

Terra, the Roadheader - a piece of machinery with a rotating head used for digging through hard rock.

Fast forward to this year and as winners of the naming competition, we were invited back to the site to see the progress that had been made in the 6 months since we last visited. This time we were spoken to about paths we could take by women in the field. They spoke to us about what they studied in high school and university to get where they are, and the amazing support they get from their coworkers, as well as the aspects they bring to their team.

This time we also got to venture into the access tunnel. Geared up in PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), we gathered into the tunnel and revisited Terra the Roadheader, who’d begun her job digging the tunnel.

It’s something that’s not given much thought, but there are so many individuals and factors that go into a project like the M6, each with different skill sets and perspectives to keep things running smoothly.

Thanks to Dr Burgis, Mrs Barnett and Ms Wildie-McDaid.

The experience gave us so much incredible insight into the construction industry and possible future pathways in various jobs in construction and engineering.

In recent years, there has been a remarkable shift in the field of engineering and construction, as more and more girls are venturing into these traditionally male-dominated industries. Breaking barriers and defying stereotypes, these bright and ambitious young women are forging their paths in engineering and construction with determination and skill.

With a passion for innovation and a desire to create tangible impact, they are contributing their unique perspectives and talents to projects of all scales, from designing sustainable infrastructure to developing cutting-edge technologies. As more and more women enter the field, these trailblazing girls are reshaping the landscape of engineering and construction, and inspiring future generations along the way.