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Batchfire Scholarship Stars: Q&A with Austin

We caught up with Austin Kombo, one of the 2023 Batchfire Scholarship recipients, to find out what he has learnt so far at university and our Callide Mine. 

Thanks for joining us to chat, Austin. How did you find out about the Batchfire Scholarship Program? 

I found out about the Batchfire Scholarship Program at school. Teachers kept us updated on any opportunities floating around the community for graduates. 

There were various options to choose from, however I pursued the Batchfire Resources Scholarship because I knew it would help me the most with what I wanted to study. 

We are glad you chose to pursue Batchfire’s Scholarship Program, Austin! You have just completed your first semester studying a Bachelor of Engineering at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), what can you tell us about your studies so far? 

I have found University to be very different from school and it has helped me become more independent and organised. There are fewer subjects to do, however the content load is a lot heavier.

I struggled early in the year as I failed to realise how crucial time management is, however as the year progressed, my time management improved and it has been an eye-opening experience getting to apply this discipline in the workplace. 

Time management is certainly a valuable skill to have attained so early in your studies, Austin! Has it been comforting knowing you not only have subsidised study costs, but also guaranteed holiday placement opportunities? 

Knowing that Batchfire is subsidising my studies has brought me relief, yet I am also grateful that I get to come back and work here during holidays.  

As a student, and I am sure most students can agree, saving up money while balancing university life can be very difficult. Having Batchfire there to provide some financial aid has been a great help for me and my family and for that I am grateful. 

What have you learnt so far, both at university and on-site at Batchfire’s Callide Mine? 

I have been privileged to learn from my supervisors about the typical procedures and protocols within an engineering team such as this one at Batchfire, as well as being able to learn how to approach problems.  

I have worked on a small project which entails the restoration of a small coal sump facility near the Callide Coal Handling Plant (CCHP). The sump fails to satisfy Australian Standards and my job is to essentially develop a scope of works and determine the feasibility of refurbishing the sump. The scope is to be presented to contractors so we can assess who will install and fabricate for the right price.  

We need to get approval and, if approved, we can complete our project and evaluate it. This has been familiar to university in a way, like working in groups to complete a project. I have learnt that engineering is never really done alone. Most of the time you are required to work as a team to complete a project, which makes the work a lot more efficient. 

We couldn’t agree more, Austin – teamwork makes the dream work. Has the experience so far cemented your interest in the resources industry? 

My experience at Batchfire has certainly increased my interest in the resources industry and given me a more well-rounded understanding of what engineering encompasses.  

I still have a lot to learn about the industry and I am grateful for everything that my supervisors have taught and shown me so far. I am still very much set on getting into the resources industry once I complete my studies! 

What advice would you give to school-leavers considering a scholarship at Batchfire? 

My advice for school-leavers would be to leap at a scholarship opportunity like this one. I have found my experience here to be exceedingly helpful with my studies. Being able to gain experience in what you are studying is a fantastic opportunity and an experience that not only I encourage, but so do course coordinators and lecturers at uni.  

Fortunately, Batchfire has enabled students to gain experience through this Scholarship and it also provides them with a means of saving money to assist with study life.  

The Scholarship benefits everyone including Batchfire as they offer to subsidise study costs on an annual basis and in return you work for them and get paid during your placement. 

Great advice! What is your best memory on-site at Callide so far? 

Having the opportunity to witness a blast on-site has been my favourite experience at Batchfire so far. Getting to learn the prep work and procedures behind a single blast has been a great learning experience, however witnessing a blast in person for the first time was incredible. 

Thanks for the chat, Austin. It sounds like you have landed on your feet both at university and at our Callide Mine! 

Batchfire’s 2023 Scholarship Program welcomed six talented young students who are now part-way through their studies at university.  

Each student is given $5,000 per year for university-related costs, as well guaranteed vacation work and placement opportunities.  

If you live in the Callide Valley and are looking at undertaking tertiary education, keep an eye out for the next Batchfire Scholarship Program..  

To find out more about Batchfire you can connect with us on LinkedIn or contact us here.