Following in my father’s footsteps

My name is Xela Angela Pil (top right) and I am currently undertaking a Bachelor of Civil Engineering (Honours) and Diploma of Professional Practice (co-op). This will be my third year in the course with only a year and a half to go.

When I left school, I did so with no real direction on what career I wanted to pursue. I therefore decided to work for a while before jumping back into study. During that time, I was able to reflect on the things that interested me.

My father is a civil engineer and it was during this time between finishing school and starting university that I showed some interest in what he does – which turned out to be very interesting! He got to travel and be involved in creating a wide-range of interesting things:  from marine structures to bridges and buildings. This is when engineering became the suitable career choice for me.

By this time though, I had been out of school for five years and needed to find another avenue to help me get into the degree. CQUniversity offers an amazing bridging program called Skills for Tertiary Education Preparatory Studies (STEPS) to essentially refresh what you know and get you the equivalent prerequisites to qualify to your desired course. More so, CQUniversity is one of only a few universities that offer work placement incorporated into your degree as an additional qualification (Diploma of Professional Practice). This was one advantage the CQUni Gladstone campus had over the other campuses as it is at the heart of the LNG Mining Industry, Alumina Refiner Industry, Aluminium Smelter, Coal Operations and Export and many more. Gladstone, where I have been living for some years now, was a prime spot to be undertaking engineering, as I was able to experience the industry in my own backyard.

One thing that stands out about studying in the Gladstone campus as an internal student is the amount of support you receive from the lecturers and course coordinators. Engineering is a very hands-on course as well as intellectually challenging. Having the support readily available is very reassuring, especially for a mature-aged student such as myself, where high school seems like a distant memory.

The best thing about studying engineering at CQUni is the opportunity to network. CQUni often hosts Engineers Australia’s monthly meetings and workshops where they encourage students to come along and participate (free of charge). During my work placement, I was able to build a very strong relationship with my colleagues and superiors while also making very useful connections in the civil construction industry. CQUni and Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy (QMEA) work very closely to promote tertiary studies to the younger generation by holding events, and many more occasions, where many of Gladstone’s Industries are invited to showcase their profession.

I look forward to graduating and being a part of the Civil Industry workforce. I feel such an immense passion for designing and seeing a structure transform from a drawing, come to life.

>> Ever dreamed of seeing big things come to life? Get a taste for engineering by attending CQUniversity’s Gladstone Open Day on Sunday, 4 September from 9am-1pm. To find out more or to register, please visit

CQUniversity Australia (

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