| 21 November 2022

Meet Alex Vollebergh, graduate member and engineer at Visy

Alex is a graduate engineer at Visy with a passion for sustainability and a clean energy future. He spoke to us about his study tour overseas and why he chose to get involved with Engineers Australia. 

What inspired you to study engineering? 

My path into engineering was not linear. I didn’t know much about it until after I began my science degree at university. I saw the engineering building and its computer labs, robots, 3D printers and a hive of students doing cool hands-on projects. That prompted me to investigate more and understand there were many kinds of engineers tackling a range of problems. I decided it sounded interesting, so I transferred to engineering in my second year.  

I am very passionate about sustainability, energy and the circular economy, and engineering gave me a skillset to contribute towards a global transition to a cleaner and more sustainable future.   

Can you tell us a bit about your study tour in Bosnia and Herzegovina? 

I was very fortunate to be given opportunities at university to undertake many interesting experiences, including projects that led me abroad three times. My first time overseas was a university study tour to Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is a small nearly landlocked country in Eastern Europe.  

We worked on different projects over two semesters in an engineering class and then we took these projects and worked with Bosnian students to adapt them to a local context. My group’s project was based on ocean seaweed farming, which for a country with just 20 kilometres of coastline was tricky to say the least. 

The project was, realistically, a non-starter but along the way I learnt to collaborate with local students while visiting engineering and cultural sites. I built up my technical skills and soft skills such as confidence, resilience and communication.  

Why was it important for you to be involved with Engineers Australia?  

I found being an Engineers Australia student and graduate member to be very useful. I went to a lot of events such as talks, networking events and webinars. Many were free or heavily discounted for student members and a lot had food (you can never underestimate the importance of free food to students). 

By attending these events I learned more about the profession, made industry connections, and gained insights into a range of engineering topics. 

What are your hopes for your future in the engineering profession and the profession more broadly? 

I am keen to make an impact in helping industries become more energy efficient, sustainable and decarbonised. My hope for the wider profession is engineers in all disciplines begin to incorporate sustainability more comprehensively into their work. Not as tokenistic greenwashing, but as fundamental framework for all projects. I think engineers are well placed to help accelerate the clean energy transition, but it will take deliberate effort and long-term thinking.