Students and staff from Murdoch’s School of Engineering and Energy recently visited two of Western Australia’s iconic renewable energy installations near Geraldton – the Mumbida Wind Farm, and the Greenough River Solar Farm.
They were hosted by the Verve Energy project managers, who themselves are graduates of the energy programme at Murdoch.
Heath Lang graduated from Murdoch in 2000 with an MSc in Renewable Energy, and his current role is as Principal Engineer for the Mumbida Wind Farm development, a joint venture between Verve Energy and the Energy Infrastructure Trust, located 40km southeast of Geraldton.
When fully operational early in 2013 its 22 GE 2.5MW turbines will produce enough electricity to power 35,000 homes and will displace 200,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.
Heath said of the visit: “It's great to be able to give something back to the place where I originally studied energy by hosting the Murdoch visit to Mumbida. Hopefully it has given the current batch of students an idea of where their studies can take them.”
Meanwhile, Mark Rayner was also one of the first graduates from the Renewable Energy MSc, and is currently project manager of the Greenough River Solar Farm which opened earlier this month and is a joint venture between Verve Energy and GE Energy Financial Service.
Using First Solar’s thin film solar modules, the 10MW solar farm is the largest in Australia, saving about 20,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year. The Water Corporation is purchasing the entire output of both the solar farm and the wind farm to offset the energy requirements of the Southern Seawater Desalination Plant at Binningup near Bunbury
Reflecting on the start that Murdoch gave him in his career, Mark said: “My career in the renewable energy industry began with my Masters degree at Murdoch. The degree gave me a solid foundation in the technological, economic and environmental aspects of the industry and has led me to work on a number of diverse and exciting projects."
Tiaz Hasny, a third year Electrical Power and Renewable Energy student, found the trip an inspiration.
“Having the opportunity to see the things we’ve learnt about in lectures up close and in real life is great, but even better is to meet the people who made these projects happen, and to realise that just a few years ago they were in my shoes, studying energy at Murdoch.”
The visits were part of an ongoing program giving students exposure to industry, which includes visits to major conventional and renewable energy installations, guest lectures by energy industry practitioners, and a careers networking event between current students and alumni.
Professor Parisa Bahri, Dean of the School of Engineering and Energy said: “By maintaining a strong relationship with past graduates who go on to work in the industry, we are able to supplement the student’s academic studies with real life experiences, making them better prepared for a career in energy when they graduate.”
The School of Engineering and Energy at Murdoch has undergraduate and postgraduate offerings in Engineering, Physics and Nanotechnology, Energy Studies and Renewable Energy.
The School follows an integrated, interdisciplinary approach to teaching, producing multi-skilled graduates that modern industry demands. Flexible teaching methods allow many energy courses to be studied online – ideal for busy professionals looking to re-train or increase their qualifications while still working.