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Two promising young school-leavers have been named as the inaugural recipients of the QMEA Ambassador Scholarships.

Emma Mackenzie, a Pittsworth State High School graduate, and Nicholas Ward-Grodd, from Pioneer State High School in Mackay, will this year embark on university degrees that will propel them towards their goals of working in the resources sector. The $5,000 scholarships from BHP/BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) will support their studies.

Both students were part of an elite cohort of QMEA Ambassadors in 2021. The program, facilitated by the Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy (QMEA), selects 20 of the State’s brightest Year 12 students to participate in activities over 12 months that increase their understanding of the resources sector, provide opportunities for networking, and develop leadership skills.

Emma said that her role as a QMEA Ambassador last year broadened her experience of the mineral sector. “It has helped me to reaffirm my ambitions, as I always wanted to study geology,” she said. “Now I feel even more compelled to follow this career path.”

Emma has been accepted into a Bachelor of Geology at James Cook University (JCU) in Townsville and, upon graduation, hopes to become a field geologist. Pursuing her geology dream will take Emma more than 1,300km away from her home in Millmerran, with the scholarship helping to alleviate some of the financial pressures associated with her move and study costs.

Nicholas Ward-Grodd, received an early offer to study a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) and Diploma of Professional Practice (Co-op Engineering) majoring in Mechatronics at CQUniversity. The degree will allow him to pursue a lifelong passion for mathematics, physics and creating things – “from computer technology to vehicles to 3D modelling and 3D printing”.

“Mechatronics incorporates many things that really intrigue me (computer science, electronics, mechanical design, robotics, and so on) and it is an exciting field within a growth industry,” said Nicholas. Nicholas said the scholarship will help offset costs attached to the intensive five-year course, such as buying a laptop with specialised engineering software.

QMEA’s Manager of Skills and Education, Matthew Heskett, said that both students can look forward to a bright future. “It’s enormously rewarding for us to work with these young people over their final school year and then see them follow their aspirations at university.”

“For Emma, who is entering a field that’s traditionally male-dominated, and for Nicholas, a young Indigenous man, these scholarships represent an opportunity to overcome some of the obstacles faced by previous generations,” said Matthew. “We are pleased to have partnered with BHP/BMA to award these scholarships and encourage the next generation of skilled resources recruits.”

BMA Head of HR Tamara Barden congratulated Emma and Nicholas on their achievements and noted the scholarships are an investment in diversity across the resources sector.

“We know that inclusive and diverse workplaces are safer, more balanced and more productive,” she said.

“Students like Emma and Nicholas are part of the future of the resources landscape in Australia. We’re pleased to support them in their studies, and we look forward to seeing where their careers take them.”

As Australia’s largest and most successful industry-led education and skills training initiative, the QMEA seeks to broaden student and teacher knowledge of career opportunities in resources. The academy encourages a talent pipeline of employees into VET and STEM-related careers, with a focus on female and Indigenous participation. The QMEA currently engages with 90 schools and is a partnership with the Queensland Government under its Gateway to Industry Schools program.

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