Work and study go hand in hand for engineering graduate

27 April 2023
Robin Sheehy
Robin Sheehy

A study journey that spanned more than three decades came to an end for Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) graduate, Robin Sheehy at today’s CQUniversity Mackay graduation.

Even from a young age, Robin said he always had an interest in engineering with his family fueling his passion for the industry.

"By the time I started high school, I already wanted to be an engineer," he said.

"It was clearly a family thing with my father and older brother ahead of me. I always had an interest in science and math with a practical bent."

Although Robin initially enrolled in tertiary education after high school, an opportunity for on-the-job training saw the aspiring engineer postpone his studies for a role in Queensland’s mining sector.

“I ended up leaving university without a degree and entering the engineering field directly with a small technology company,” Robin said.

“As my job developed, I decided it was time to resume my studies. I wanted to advance my skills and solidify several technical skills, particularly the more math-heavy methods and techniques I was rusty on.”

In 2011, Robin decided to pursue his engineering studies again and enrolled at CQUniversity but found it difficult to maintain a strong work-life balance. The Mackay local again deferred his studies before returning six years later with a new mindset, more discipline, and a better plan.

"Trying to balance my studies alongside a demanding full-time job, that involved significant travel within and outside of Australia, quickly became overwhelming.

“I wanted to finish quickly and as a result, I drowned under the cognitive load of balancing full-time study and work. Overcoming this was a process of changing expectations and understanding my limitations,” Robin said.

"It was important to be realistic about the study load I could carry along with full-time work and being happy to finish slower, but produce work I was happy with along the way."

This proved to be a winning combination for Robin who earned a 7.000 GPA (Grade Point Average) and subsequently the CQUniveristy School medal for outstanding academic achievement, crediting the support he received from CQU for also helping him succeed.

Throughout his studies, Robin was awarded a CQUniCares Student Support Scholarship, Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal Engineering Prize and David McPherson Memorial Prize which provided recognition and financial assistance for expenses associated with studying at university.

“My studies have certainly been a slow and steady type of affair,” he explained.

“The academic prizes I received along the way were great boosts when sometimes I felt myself flagging - it was great to know that my efforts were seen as high quality and were acknowledged.”

“The staff were incredibly supportive and proactively encouraged me to return to study. When I did return, CQU provided the assistance I needed to make sure that my prior study would be recognised.”

As Robin’s studies progressed, so did his career – working his way into a Chief Technology Officer position over 17 years.

"By the time I finally finished my studies, I was already an engineer with years of experience under my belt.

“I found this to be a large asset because as my career was growing, and I was taking on more responsibility at work, my professional growth and development helped me succeed in my studies,” Robin said.

“While graduating has not changed much for me career-wise, finishing my studies has only reinforced my passion for engineering.

"Through my work in the field of materials analysis sensors for the mining and minerals processing industries, I am constantly challenged to apply technology creatively to solve problems.

“I hope that my contributions will allow mines to understand intimately what is happening in their processing chain in real-time, allowing for greatly improved efficiencies.”