Industry Forging Relationships with Schools and Universities

South Australian industry can play a critical role in reversing the State’s brain drain, even before students are qualified and transitioning into a career, especially in key economic sectors such as space, defence and manufacturing.

Kieran Lobban, a third year Flinders University Engineering student, recently toured the Seeley International manufacturing facility in Lonsdale, discussing with Executive Chairman and Founder Frank Seeley how a $5000 annual scholarship from the manufacturer has had a profound impact on his study and lifestyle experience in South Australia.

For as long as he can remember, Kieran has been fascinated by how mechanical and electronic devices work and would often dismantle objects to figure out how and why they operated. Following in the footsteps of his older brother, he applied for the Bachelor of Engineering at Flinders University, where he is now in the third year of his electronics and robotics focused degree. With his parents living and working in rural Queensland, Kieran’s initial transition to university came with the challenge of having to support himself away from his family, while also getting used to a new study schedule and expectations.

He secured accommodation on campus, but paying food, rent and other living and study expenses became a struggle for the school-leaver. A high-achiever, Kieran applied for the Seeley International Scholarship, created to support a Bachelor of Engineering student with outstanding academic performance. Kieran commented that “because of the scholarship I was able to pay bills without having to rely on a part-time job and therefore was able to completely focus on my studies throughout the year.”

Mr Seeley said that Kieran’s experience is an example of how industry forging relationships with schools and universities can pay significant dividends for the South Australian economy. “Through this scholarship investment, South Australian industry is making a direct connection with our next generation of engineers, enriching their study experience and highlighting the opportunities available in our great State”.

Beginning as a humble garage operation in 1972, Seeley made its early breakthrough with the production of an all-plastic evaporative cooling unit which quickly attracted the attention of the Middle-Eastern market in particular. The company now employs over 500 staff and is exporting cutting-edge evaporative and indirect evaporative technology to 120 countries. With a dedicated ‘Imagineering’ team focused on blue-sky technology, Mr Seeley has been bullish in his approach to innovation and automation.

“There’s a misconception that automation removes jobs. It’s quite the opposite – automation gives us the capacity to upscale business, grow our markets and ultimately, build demand for skilled workers,” said Mr Seeley.

“With Seeley’s design, manufacturing and ‘imagineering’ done right here in South Australia, we want to highlight manufacturing as an exciting career pathway for our young people and give them opportunities to use their skills and knowledge within the State.”

For Keiran, his scholarship support from Seeley International has strengthened both his study and career prospects, and alongside his undergraduate degree he is now working towards completing a Master of Engineering Science (Electrical and Electronic). This dedication and focus will be a great benefit to Kieran’s future job opportunities now emerging in the State’s key economic sectors, and following his studies, he said, “my ultimate goal would be working in the space, defence and manufacturing sectors.”