For three year 12 students from Smithfield State High School, a career in engineering and environmental science is a step closer after participating in Construction Skills Queensland’s (CSQ) Gateway program at the $164 million Smithfield Bypass Project.

Organised by CSQ in conjunction with Smithfield State High School’s Department of Vocational Pathways and Smithfield Bypass Project’s contractor, Highway Construction & Albem Operations (HAJV), the impressive trio put holiday time aside to confirm their future career paths with on-the-job experience.

While graduation is just a few months from now, Mohit Palarwal, Rochelle John Kelly, and Fatima Karimi have applied to continue their education at university in the fields of engineering and environmental science.

Fatima Karimi said plans to add engineering to an architecture degree only came about through CSQ’s innovative Gateway program offered by her school and the Smithfield Bypass Project.

“Basically, I was given a front-row seat to watch and experience first-hand, a day in the life of an engineer.

“I found it really interesting and it really changed my perception of what it is to be an engineer.

“It’s just so broad and intense and covers all sorts of areas from quality and procurement to safety, design, and construction,” Miss Karimi said.

Also, on the brink of adding tertiary studies in engineering to a diploma in business and entrepreneurship at James Cook University, 18-year-old Mohit Palarwal agreed his perception of the engineering profession has changed since undertaking work experience.

“I’ve learned how diverse and specialised engineering is, from the design stage to actual, on-site construction, and feel it is a career in which you create a legacy.

“What I enjoyed most about the week was being on-site with the engineers, helping with concrete pours and taking measurements,” Mr. Palarwal said.

In contrast to fellow students Fatima and Mohit, Rochelle John Kelly is opting for a combination of environmental science and safety, but within a civil construction context.

“I have been able to see how this type of work is really important and that there is a crossover between the environment and safety, to protect and conserve.

“It’s been really interesting taking samples of soil and water and then testing them to see how they will affect the ecosystem,” Mr John Kelly said.

According to  CSQ’s Industry Engagement Manager FNQ, Robyn Van Rooye this is the first time its school-based Gateway program has been aligned with a large civil project in Cairns and judging from the success of its inaugural venture with Smithfield State High School and the Smithfield Bypass Project, will look to pursue other civil construction placements in the future.

 The Smithfield Bypass Project is expected to finish in 2021, weather permitting.

For more information about the Smithfield Bypass Project, visit: https://www.tmr.qld.gov.au/Projects/Name/C/Captain-Cook-Highway-Smithfield-Bypass-Project