Mikkaela Hughes is an Engineering Institute of Technology graduate who recently earned her 52810WA – Advanced Diploma of Mechanical Engineering Technology. Mikkaela rose above adversity to pursue her career in engineering, and her story proves there is not just one pathway to take you from studying to the workplace, but that there are many approaches that can lead to success.
Mikkaela currently works in the tank manufacturing and refurbishment industry in South Africa. She is responsible for ensuring that her company provides products that comply with the design requirements set by clients. Mikkaela is fascinated with engineering because of the problems it presents.
“I am a very open-minded, creative, and passionate individual who thrives on challenges and complexity. I feel that the field of engineering stimulates me and challenges me daily as I get to encounter many challenges on a daily basis, and hence grow from them,” she said.
Mikkaela began studying mechanical engineering on a full-time basis in 2010, but due to financial restraints and life getting in the way, she was not able to continue her studies. As a result, she determined that she needed to start working.
“I started working in the engineering/construction management field in 2012, at the tender age of 20, and have been in this industry for about seven years now. During this time, I have been fortunate enough to be exposed to various aspects of the engineering field.”
While she hit the ground running with work, she began new academic endeavors as well. She completed her Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced Project Management Certificate during this time, as well as a Welding Inspection Diploma. At work, she gained exposure to pressure vessels, piping, structural steelworks, civil works, painting inspection, boilers, tankage fabrication, and maintenance as well as progressive tracking and resource allocation and planning.
Mikkaela managed to bring herself out of a difficult situation, equip herself with necessary skills and practical knowledge, and become a better practitioner in the engineering industry. With her previous industry experience, she began studying her 52810WA – Advanced Diploma of Mechanical Engineering Technology with EIT.
“I was highly impressed by the course content, which was so diverse and touched on many engineering aspects. This course covered content that I have not seen at other institutions. I was also impressed by previous students’ testimonies.”
Mikkaela says that her employers have been positive about her EIT qualification, and she is now determined to continue her academic journey and further enhance her career.
“Life after EIT has been blessed! I feel more confident in my working environment and more knowledgeable. Due to the completion of this qualification, and many more to come, I definitely see many doors being opened. I see myself maturing in this field and every aspect of engineering.”
She says that there is always a challenge to endure and solve in engineering - she maintains that it builds character and motivates her to keep going because she won’t rest until problems have been resolved. So far, her journey in engineering might have been different, but she has been able to gain momentum in her career.
“There were many challenges that stood in my way to complete my qualification. These included working 12-hour shifts seven days a week, financial setbacks of which I was not working for six months in 2018, having to relocate three times for work purposes, as well as the pressures and challenges and setbacks of life in general. But, my main goal was to persevere and complete my qualification and become the best engineer to pave the way for future engineers, particularly women in engineering.”
Determined to succeed, Mikkaela has done everything in her power to exact her own unique career progression. Her determination has been nothing short of impressive - but the journey isn’t over yet. She is considering several options that EIT presents in terms of degrees and certificates, so she can continue to build on her already substantive skill set.
“I would definitely encourage young people to pursue a career in the field of science, technology, mathematics, and engineering if they have an aptitude and passion for this field.”