Student Spotlight: Peng on engineering a future career in composite materials
Words by Peng Yu
My name is Peng Yu and I’m from Shanghai, China. I am currently working on a PhD in Future Materials at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) in Toowoomba and have completed a Master of Engineering Science at USQ as well.
I did a Bachelor of Engineering degree and worked as an engineer in China. I had a stable job with good career development. However, after working in the industry for 5 years I wanted to improve my skills to open up further opportunities. I decided to pursue a Master degree and started looking at universities overseas, particularly in English-speaking countries that would make me an attractive employee for international companies.
Australia was my first option as it’s quite close to China and the time difference is only two hours, which meant I didn’t have to call my family in the middle of the night. I chose to study at USQ because the course offers national accreditation as a professional engineer with Engineers Australia and the tuition fees and cost of living in Toowoomba are quite affordable.
I learnt English in China, which was quite difficult: there were no English-speaking communities nearby so I had to do it all myself to pass the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) English language test in order to study in Australia.
I had never heard of Toowoomba before I came to Australia. All I knew was that it was called the ‘Garden City’ when I Googled it. I’ve lived in Toowoomba now for 4 years and it’s a very beautiful and quiet city, which is an ideal place for study and research. It’s not too far to drive to Brisbane, Queensland’s capital city. If I have a craving for my hometown flavours, all I have to do is jump in the car and I’m there for lunch.
I also like the subtropical climate in Queensland and have travelled to the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast, Hervey Bay and Fraser Island during my time here. Queensland is a huge state and it’s a great destination for international students as there are city, town and rural study experiences.
It isn’t difficult for international students to meet people and make connections in Toowoomba. I’ve found Aussie people are friendly and happy to talk to you, and that’s helped to improve my English a lot after coming here. I’ve also made friends from all over the world and learnt about different ways of thinking, which is also great for improving my professional skills and personal development.
I think the exposure to a multicultural environment, as well as the brilliant quality of education provided by USQ, will set me up for success in my future career. My degree is closely connected to, and developed with, industry partners.
I’m working on a multi-party project between the Queensland Government, USQ and an industry partner, using composite materials to develop an alternative for traditional timber railway sleepers. This project has allowed me to improve my connections and personal networks in the industry that will help me with my future career. It has improved my confidence and allowed me to continue with further research opportunities.
I’d like to stay and work in Queensland, so I’ll look at engineering positions in Brisbane when I complete my PhD in 2021. My ideal long-term career goal would be to become a professor in my field.
In my experience, studying in Queensland really allows you to start here and go anywhere. I’m involved in learning cutting-edge technology with global outcomes as part of my PhD degree that will allow me to travel to other countries, attend conferences and share our research worldwide. I really believe Queensland will give me the edge for a global career.