From lamps to lighting up the grid

Celebrating International Women in Engineering Day 2024

HomeFrom lamps to lighting up the grid

“I remember in my first year of university we made a lamp from scratch, and I found it really cool that you could make things that work and are functional.” 

Maria Jose, Women in Engineering Scholarship receipient and current Engineering graduate

Maria Jose didn’t realise it at the time, but her lamp building experience would eventually lead to a promising career in power.

Maria is a former recipient of our Women in Engineering Scholarship program and current Engineering graduate. As part of International Women in Engineering Day she shares her career journey with us. 


Creating pathways for women in engineering

“At high school I knew I liked math, so I did methods and specialist maths.  I wanted to find a course that would align or use those specialities, which led me to engineering. Then it was choosing whatever looked interesting and engineering had all the robotics!” 

Now in its seventh year, our Women in Engineering Scholarship program was developed to broaden the opportunities for women in engineering and strengthen the pathway for women in electrical engineering within our graduate program and the electrical engineering industry more broadly.

“When I was at Monash University, I was doing a double degree in electrical computer systems engineering and biomedical science.  

I was one of only two girls who went into my course from school, I came from an all-girl’s school, so it was definitely quite a shock for me going into engineering, where I’m now a minority. 

Originally, I was going to take a very different pathway as I was interested in prosthetics. The scholarship was offered at the same time I started to look for placements. It came up at a good time for me in third year uni, when you don’t really know what sort of jobs are out there.”

Developed in association with leading universities, the scholarship program includes financial assistance, a personal mentor, 12 weeks of paid work experience through the Summer Vacation Program, and those that take part are fast-tracked to interview as a candidate for our graduate engineering program.   

“The major benefit for me was the scholarship offered the vacation program. It gives you that first professional workplace experience.  

It taught me how diverse the power industry was and how it’s much more than just poles and wires. 

I also met a lot of people who seemed to really enjoy what they did, including other grads. I met Teshini (Network Solutions Engineer) and I was like ‘ok, I can see someone who is also female, I can now see myself in that role.”

For Maria, the 12-week placement was the impetus to narrow her career focus to the power industry.  

“When I returned to uni, I was motivated to get into the grad program and I began to choose electives that were power focused. 

Unfortunately, because of coronavirus (COVID-19) there wasn’t a graduate program offered the year I finished university.  

However, the placement experience gave me an edge and I was able to find similar roles within the industry. Subsequently, because I had already established workplace connections, when the 2022 graduate program intake opened, I was encouraged to apply.” 

Maria and other graduates on a field trip

Maria is now in her final rotation, as a third-year graduate, in distribution planning and connection. 

“When customers want to connect into the grid, we will analyse the grid to make sure that it can support it. 

I’m enjoying it, it’s quite a varied role and there’s a lot of long-term planning. 

My experiences from the rotations I did earlier help support this one. For example, I did contingency planning in the network control room.” 

Maria’s advice for women wanting to get into engineering?  

“Try to source engineering experience as early on into your engineering degree as possible and start networking.  

Whilst your degree gives you a foundation to work off, most of the learning happens with experience, whether that be at a workplace or other project experiences.  

Always be open to taking up challenges and don’t limit yourself, there’s always so much to learn!” 

Lola North, Head of Human Resources and Organisational Development, said the program has awarded eleven scholarships to date since 2017.

“It’s fantastic to be able to not only welcome these talented graduates into our business, but to benefit the broader industry by encouraging more women to consider a career in electrical engineering.”