La Trobe University student Niraj Maskey was fully prepared to have his feet under a desk and be writing a thesis for much of 2019 — his final year of studies to complete a combined civil engineering and finance degree.
Instead, he has been testing load limits for historic bridges, fabricating new spares using 3D printing and crunching the numbers on lithium battery replacement for thousands of irrigation gates across northern Victoria.
Mr Maskey was born and raised in Shepparton, where he graduated from high school at Notre Dame Secondary College. Now 22, he is in his fifth year of post-secondary engineering studies in Bendigo.
And this year has had the opportunity to take part in La Trobe’s Work Integrated Learning program — an 800-hour commitment to put his learning to work for the benefit of a qualified organisation and his future career prospects.
Mr Maskey carried out the program through Goulburn Murray Water.
“I was really grateful for the opportunity to work for GMW’s electrical and mechanical department and the mentorship the staff there provided me,” he said.
“I grew up in the Goulburn Valley but I had no idea how many assets GMW owns and maintains.”
Mr Maskey said his last six months had included work on historic irrigation assets — for example, ensuring safety standards and load limits on aging River Murray infrastructure — and the high-tech, such as 3D parts production and SCADA control system management. He has also conducted important research to assist colleagues working on maintenance and construction projects.
Mr Maskey will finish up with GMW this month and while he is unsure of where his engineering career will take him, he expects water management will play a part in his role.