Students from the Australian Industry Trade College (AITC) Sunshine Coast Energy Academy recently embarked on a transformative excursion, igniting their passion for the power sector. Over three immersive days, our AITC staff meticulously curated an itinerary, guiding students through a diverse array of energy generation facilities, from traditional coal-fired power stations to cutting-edge renewable energy installations.

Day 1: Kogan Creek Power Station

The journey commenced at Kogan Creek Power Station, hailed as one of Australia’s pinnacle coal-fired power facilities. Boasting the largest single generating unit in the nation, this station exemplifies technical prowess while prioritising environmental stewardship. Glenn English, AITC Industry Engagement Advisor, reflected, “The amazing team from CS Energy provided our students with some career defining industry exposure, some genuine advice about the future of energy, and the many career pathways available to them.” Gratitude was extended to key individuals, including Alivia Bonk, Christopher Lindenberg, Michael Louis, Brittany Herbert, Malinda Street, and apprentice mechanical fitter Tom, for their illuminating discussions and behind-the-scenes access.

Day 2: MacIntyre Wind Farm and Warwick Solar Farm

Transitioning to renewable energy, students visited the MacIntyre Wind Farm, a testament to ACCIONA Energía’s commitment to sustainability. Here, amidst the towering turbines, students gained firsthand knowledge of renewable energy’s expansive potential and the burgeoning employment opportunities within the sector. Glenn remarked, “Students were welcomed by the team at Acciona Energia to the Macintyre Wind Farm. Katie Unipan provided everyone with an overview of the construction project and employment opportunities within the industry.” A similar sense of enlightenment awaited at the Warwick Solar Farm, where the convergence of scale and economic viability showcased the capability of solar power on a grand scale.

Day 3: Swanbank Power Station

Concluding the power trip at Swanbank Power Station, students witnessed the evolution of energy generation, transitioning from coal-centric to sustainable, low-emission solutions. CleanCo’s ambitious vision to transform Swanbank into a clean energy hub underscores Queensland’s commitment to a greener future.

Brad Pinch, Head of Industry and Partnerships at the AITC, emphasised the excursion’s significance, affirming its status as a cultural cornerstone within the College. “The Energy Academy power trip is fast becoming a cultural piece at the AITC. Our staff and industry partners have a steadfast commitment to our young people and educating them regarding career pathways,” noted Brad.

Riley, a student who attended the power trip week, shared his enthusiasm, “The excursion was eye-opening. Seeing firsthand how different energy sources operate and learning about the future of the industry was incredibly inspiring. It’s motivated me to explore career opportunities in renewable energy.” Through Riley’s perspective, the enduring impact of experiential learning on students’ career aspirations becomes palpable.

Tanou Siebenmann, Industry Operations Manager at the AITC Sunshine Coast, expressed how significant industry immersive experiences positively impact the connections between education with the world of employment.  “We are extremely grateful that key representatives from the companies operating these powerhouses generously shared their wisdom, revealing the synergy of engineering, technology, and human ingenuity. Our young people discovered pathways that lead to various opportunities within the dynamic energy sector.”

Beyond the excursion’s tangible experiences, students also engage in the Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy’s (QMEA) Science and Mathematics and Related Technologies (QSMART) Course One. This interdisciplinary curriculum, designed in collaboration with industry stakeholders, equips students with the requisite skills and knowledge for thriving careers in the energy sector.

The AITC’s Energy Academy stands as a pioneering initiative, bridging the gap between education and industry in the pursuit of a sustainable energy future. Through immersive experiences and rigorous academic programs, students emerge as stewards of change, poised to shape the trajectory of Australia’s energy landscape for generations to come.