Students get industry ready with problem-solving challenge
■ Yara Pilbara has developed a partnership with a group of West Australian university students to help get them “match ready” for a role in the chemical and process engineering sector.
Yara Pilbara, which operates one of the world’s largest ammonia plants near Karratha and is currently commissioning a new technical ammonium nitrate plant, has developed a team technical challenge now under way in collaboration with the University of Western Australia’s Chemical and Process Engineering Club.
Under the program, penultimate or final year engineering students participate in a team assessment process which tests their industry awareness, analysis, presentation, communication and teamwork skills — topped off with a modern technical challenge aligned to Yara’s expertise and operations.
Yara Pilbara plant manager Rob Stevens said WA had a range of existing and emerging industries requiring the skills of chemical and process engineers, but more needed to be done to attract young people into the relevant study stream.
He said universities also needed to ensure courses were relevant and current for the companies looking to employ them after graduation.
“The challenge is an innovative way to expose chemical engineering graduates — and those also studying disciplines such as mechanical and electrical engineering — to the practicalities of industry and test their problem solving skills,” he said.
“I have been really encouraged by the enthusiasm and solution-focussed attitude of the participants, combined with their commitment to work as a team.”
The Yara Pilbara Technical Challenge began this month and teams will be required to complete presentations and panel interviews as part of the judging process.
The winning team will receive a cash prize of $1500 and will be flown to Karratha for a tour of Yara Pilbara’s operations and to present their winning entry to Yara management.
The company is also developing a strong relationship with UWA, having worked with the university to develop a Massive Online Open Course focussed on the Economics of Agriculture. The first agricultural MOOC was launched in February of this year and attracted more than 3000 participants in 55 countries.
Yara Pilbara plant manager Rob Steven with challenge entrants Ursula Madigan, Jonothan Hollander and Daniel Bourke.