On Friday, 23rd November, at the Engineering Institute of Technology’s Graduate Gala Event in Perth, Brian Lord was awarded the 2018 Graduate of the Year. He recently graduated from the Engineering Institute of Technology’s Advanced Diploma of Applied Electrical Engineering (Electrical Systems).
There are two reasons why this is remarkable: firstly, he now has another qualification under his belt and secondly, he worked full time while he studied. Like many EIT students, Brian had to become an even more astute juggler — he is also a husband, a father of three, a father-in-law and a grandad to two grandchildren.
Brian lives in a small regional city on the Victorian – NSW border in Australia, named Echuca, boasting a population of around 14,000 where he is an electrician by trade.
Despite enjoying his work and having worked Australia wide, he began searching for something that could really challenge him and boost his career. Brian has hankered after becoming an Electrical Engineer, but wondered how he could ever do the required study and retain his job. His employer, Foodmach Pty Ltd, to his surprise, agreed to support his ambitions.
“I’ve never heard of an employer in a small regional city giving a 52-year old employee that sort of an opportunity before; so I grabbed it with both hands, heart, head, and feet,” he said.
Brian applied for EIT’s Advanced Diploma because the learning platform is online and flexible, allowing him to continue working without the need for time off work to attend classes. EIT’s approach to learning is also very interactive; the instructors run tutorials in real-time and students interact with the instructors and each other.
“When I researched every Univeristy I could think of in Australia there was 'not one' that had this complete online platform for Electrical Engineering. I’d almost given up until at the request of my manager Gavin Alder, I researched for one more week,” he said.
“Low and behold I found the Engineering Institute of Technology online AND they offered 'exactly' what I’d been looking for.
“As much as my employer Foodmach was already prepared to support me, this also really helped to sway them all the way, without any worries about labour re-scheduling for schooling time off.”
Brian describes the course as the 'light bulb' that changed his electrical life and opened his mind. Having covered variable speed drives, induction motors, mathematics and much more, he reflected back to his trade school days and wondered why they hadn’t included some of EIT’s modules.
“The knowledge and skills alone, gained with the completion of the Advanced Diploma of Applied Electrical Engineering, has given me a considerable boost in confidence at work as a Trainee Electrical Engineer,” he added.
“I now find others, whom I consider more experienced in the electrical field, regularly seeking my advice; this has given me added confidence.”
Watching his progress through the course and noticing his growth in knowledge and skills, his employer tasked him with the electrical design of three new, small to medium sized projects.
Like most EIT students before him: holding down full time work and embarking on a new qualification, Brian found the new academic lifestyle something to get used to.
“A huge challenge for me as a 52-year old, going back to study whilst working full-time, was arranging and organising my time much better.”
The online delivery of EIT’s modules was an interesting beast to tame, but Brian eventually got the hang of it. He built up a rigorous study routine which included extensive note-taking during webinars, re-watching webinars three or four times, and attempting to ensure he had a clear understanding of all the information he was being presented with.
His resilience and determination resulted in him achieving some of the highest marks in his class.
Brian’s successes prove that you can indeed teach an old dog new tricks. He concludes:
“I’m absolutely stoked to now call myself an 'Associate Electrical Engineer'; recognised by Engineers Australia and to add these post-nominals after my name, Grad AIE Aust. This now helps me get into the next stage of my career; studying a Bachelor of Science to become an 'Electrical Engineer'.”
Now at 53-years of age, Brian appears to be as motivated as ever to achieve; part of the reason why EIT has honored him with the award. And we wish him all the very best with both his career and the next phase of his studies.