Cody Coleman grew up in Perth and identifies as Wadjak-Pinjarra. A curtin University engineering student, he works summers as a chemical engineer at energy company Chevron.
How did you get into engineering?
“One of my teachers received an email about the Indigenous Australian Engineering School (IAES). She thought it was a great opportunity and would help me stay motivated. In Year 9 we had an assignment to choose a form of work and do a study on it.
“I thought engineering sounded cool and I found a list of top 10 jobs in Australia that included chemical engineering.”
What have you learnt so far?
“IAES taught me that engineering is about scale. I live in Mandurah, where the old bridge has been replaced [New Mandurah Bridge]. That was super interesting because it’s reinforced steel concrete and was being pushed across the bridge at the same time it was being constructed. It was such a crazy challenge!”
How’s life as an undergrad engineer?
“I’m in my second year of uni at Curtin studying chemical engineering. I also gained a school scholarship with Chevron for their Aboriginal cadet program, working as an undergraduate engineer. I’ve worked on a project using soundwaves to evaluate the amount of sand in a pipe, and also gone up north to work on a week-long project evaluating wastewater treatment.
“I help out with the IAES when I get a chance, and I also work with the STEM outreach program at Curtin helping to bridge the information gap between Chevron and Curtin.”
Was engineering what you expected?
“Engineering is not about genius people who live in books – it’s a practical science and lets you use knowledge to go and make something or see if something’s viable. It’s kind of intuitive.”
What are your plans for the future?
“I’d like to work in innovating the energy sector and look at how we do what we’re doing, but better, and cleaner.”
“Get involved early and stay involved. As an introvert in high school, throwing yourself into opportunities like IAES and camps, really helps. Engineering isn’t as complex as it seems but it does take an effort – you need to be engaged in it.”
Cody’s study and career pathway
This article originally appears in Careers with STEM: Engineering 2020.
Author: Heather Catchpole
Heather co-founded Careers with STEM publisher Refraction Media. She loves storytelling, Asian food & dogs and has reported on science stories from live volcanoes and fossil digs