At Redback Technologies, we’ve been fortunate enough to work alongside the Australian Power Institute in facilitating a summer internship for students interested in getting real-world experience in the renewable energy field.
Wendi Ma, a 20-year-old student at the University of Queensland is currently in his third year of a dual degree in Mechatronics Engineering (Honours) and Mathematics. Being awarded an API Student Bursary allowed Ma the opportunity to spend a summer with Redback, allowing him to gain his first experience in an industrial engineering environment.
“It’s been great to finally experience what it’s like to work in industry,” said Ma. “I’ve definitely improved my technical skills, but I feel like the most valuable experiences so far were with professional skills.”
With a heavy interest in data science, machine learning and robotics, an internship in renewable energy initially felt a little left-of-field. However, with Ma’s interests in applied mathematics, especially in data science and engineering, he soon realised that the renewable energy industry held countless opportunities for cool projects that align with my interests, be it building large-scale data models, machine learning, or automation and robotics.
“I want to help make a positive impact on the world with my engineering career, and the renewables sector would definitely be one way to go about doing that. As such, I wanted to get some experience in the industry and see what it’s like.”
The internship has opened Wendi’s eyes to a world outside of the lecture theatre, where tutors and his fellow students were on a similar page in terms of expertise on a subject. “In real life, however, everyone has different areas in which they’re an expert. As such, I’ve had to improve my technical communication skills, especially when giving presentations to the executive team. That experience also greatly boosted my confidence in giving presentations.”
The constant need to not only work with other members of his team but also members of different departments at Redback saw Ma continue to improve crucial real-world teamwork skills that cannot always be taught in a classroom. “I’ve had to learn how to better document my work so that collaborating with others is easier, as well as learning how to break projects down into smaller, logical steps/tasks.”
The benefit of interning at a local company that writes and tests its own code, engineers its own products, and develops its own software in-house is that you can get to experience a variety of different disciplines within software engineering. “Whatever you’re passionate about,” Ma said, “there’ll be an area for you in renewable energy technology. Redback is extremely multidisciplinary.”
When asked if he had any advice for anyone interested in renewable energy technology, Wendi had this to say: “I know it’s very cliché, but the most important thing is definitely to follow your passions and study what you’re interested in – there’ll most likely be an application for it in renewable energy technology!”