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Duane's no flash in the pan - he's engineered his success over decades

Published:06 November 2019

Duane Gerussi proudly shows off his award

Three decades of hard yards and hands-on experiences have been paying off for CQUniversity Engineering student Duane Gerussi.

There was certainly no 'overnight success' involved recently when he earned the Student Engineer President’s Commendation from Engineers Australia Queensland, for contributions to the engineering community in the greater Cairns region.

Originally a New Zealander, Duane started out in humble roles in Sydney as a window cleaner, builder's labourer and landscaper before moving north for a croupier role at the Cairns Casino.

He later spent five years teaching English in Japan before returning to a similar role in Australia, supplemented by maths tuition.

Duane's journey to become a civil engineer began when he realised it was a way he could consolidate his practical skills, at a time when his adult children had left home.

"I could build a house, fix a car or make furniture so engineering was a way to understand the theory behind my practical skills," he says.

"I did the STEPS program at CQUni Cairns and found it valuable and a useful way to get into the swing of tertiary study."

Duane has been supporting himself financially as a student through maths tuition, along with home handyman work in the holidays.

As well as maintaining a high GPA for his academic studies, Duane's team represented CQUniversity with distinction at last year's annual Warman Design & Build Competition in Sydney. Their robot entry was also made from the most recycled materials.

He also gained a New Colombo Plan scholarship and support from CQUGlobal Outbound to join other CQUni students at an Engineers Without Borders excursion to Nepal.

"In Nepal, we were able to immerse ourselves with local villagers to help them improve their work flows and health and safety practices," he says.

The Cairns resident is now planning a local industry placement for the final year of his degree, next year. He hopes he can continue to perform well academically.

"As a mature-age student I'm keen to show how my decades of work experience translate into grades for my degree."