Currently studying EIT's Master of Engineering (Industrial Automation) at our Melbourne campus and recently appointed as EIT's on-campus Higher Education Ambassador, Shashikala Senevirathna is the definition of a well-rounded engineer.
Fondly known as Shashi, she started her education pathway in engineering a decade ago at the University of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka. Shashi graduated in 2015 with a Bachelor of Science of Engineering (Mechanical) Honors and since then never really slowed down in terms of not only working in the field of engineering but gaining as much knowledge and experience as possible.
Her current enrollment at EIT to complete a Master of Engineering (Industrial Automation) and her Master degrees in Professional Accounting (MPA) and Masters in Business Administration (MBA) attests to that.
Having knowledge of business and administration is however just the icing on top of the cake.
Shashi graduated in 2015 with a Bachelor of Science of Engineering (Mechanical) Honors and since then never really slowed down in terms of not only working in the field of engineering but gaining as much knowledge and experience as possible.
“My mom always tells me, learn something new, read something new - you never know when there will be some use for it one day,” she muses.
This seems to have been a terrific motto.
Education helped her navigate the tumultuous world of 2020, and come out of it with not only educational vigor – but also the will to take on more studies.
“During 2020 I was doing MBA and MPA in Holmes Institute Melbourne. Along with my studies, I was working for an airline in the facility management section. With COVID-19, airports were the first to take the hit and I was suddenly unemployed.”
Shashi used it as a way to alter her short-term goals into long-term plans. First by staying busy by expanding her small business which provides care within the disabled community.
With her husband, they also started a side business that provides interior decorating supplies for homeowners that were suddenly spending more time in their abodes.
“I also needed to plan ahead in the best way to utilize my time. As a result, I completed the MBA and MPA courses and started my journey with EIT.”
An odd aspect of the pandemic is the fact that Shashi’s social life was almost placed on hold, and studying does come in handy to fill some of that void.
Not that being studious hasn’t always featured in her life.
During her time at the University of Peradeniya, she gained good knowledge and experience in Smart Room Automation and Building Management Systems. It eventually manifested as the reason she opted to start her Master of Engineering (Industrial Automation) with EIT.
“With this course, I have expanded my knowledge further in many automation aspects such as data communication and instrumentation. Most of the things that I learn is relevant to my work as well. That helps me a lot to balance my work and studies.”
It’s a tall order to study and work full-time, Shashi is also a multi-faceted engineer that not only likes Settlers of Catan and Monopoly she’s also a singer and violinist.
“I have performed in few musical shows in Sri Lanka,” she shares.
On top of that, she’s a multilinguist and is literate in Sinhala, Tamil, English, Hindi and Korean. “These days I’m trying to learn Russian and French,” Shashi says.
But the language of engineering is certainly taking top priority for the time being.
“As Engineers, we need to update ourselves to give our best to society. For me, Studying with EIT is one of the most important milestones in my life because it opened up a whole new world to me.”
Automation and the building management environment also expands constantly, and as a result, it’s not only about staying on top of the field but being involved in all the new experiences that come with the territory.
For Shashi, the fact that there’s always something new to try is what makes it such a valuable part of her life.
She landed a new job this year as a Smart Building Specialist at MySmart Technologies. With the responsibility of taking sustainability in engineering into account, she also makes time to ensure there is enough time to get to her EIT duties.
“During a normal day at work, I get to go on-site visits and program sensors and controllers. All in all, working in MySmart Technologies is fun. The company also provides me with the freedom to allocate enough time for my studies.”
She makes mention that she’s always been interested in energy optimization, energy-saving buildings and green construction. And it is part of her desired career path.
After work, music, fitness and dinner are in order and at least 60 minutes to study.
The day ends with a call to her family in Sri Lanka, where her daughter is currently staying due to restrictions on movement during the pandemic. Luckily, she stays with Shashi’s parents so it’s a great time to catch up on everyone’s lives.
Her own childhood comes to mind a lot these days. She was just 7 years old when her interest in engineering piqued.
“In 1998 my parents were building our new home. When I saw the house plan, I was really interested in that. It was the first step towards my engineering career.”
Well, the house plans and an unlikely source of engineering inspiration, Tinkerbell.
“In 2008 when I watched Tinkerbell, it hit me that she’s actually an engineer, the only difference is that she is a fairy. Basically, what she does is coming up with solutions for the issues in Pixie Hollow. That’s what engineers do.”
Finding inspiration like this is one of the reason’s Shashi was selected as an EIT Student Ambassador, something she’s proud of. Not just as a working engineer and student, but because it solidifies her deep appreciation of knowledge.
“It helps me to network with professionals all around the world, but being an ambassador and a student representative for EIT helps me to expand my professional network. I’m able to help and guide others to their own success as well. Just the thought of it makes my day,” she shares.
A Master of Engineering will not be the end for Shashi, she’s already looking at a Doctor of Engineering with EIT.
“We are all learning until the day we pass on. And as engineers, we must be always up to date. Therefore, professional development matters,” she concludes.
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