Engineering student Nikeeta Roche is breaking into the male-dominated field.
Engineering student Nikeeta Roche is breaking into the male-dominated field. Warren Lynam

Nikeeta wins $20k for civil engineering study

A $20,000 scholarship was just what Nikeeta Roche needed to help her on the way to a career in civil engineering.

She and fellow University of the Sunshine Coast students Sarah Norman and Leesa Partridge were among more than 140 women in Queensland to be granted the scholarships to study in traditionally male-dominated industries.

Each woman will receive $5000 a year while studying for her degree in an effort by the Queensland Government to boost the number of women working in areas like engineering, architecture, building services, IT and geological sciences.

The university told Ms Roche about the scholarship opportunity after she enrolled in civil engineering courses.

USC had grand plans to build the civil engineering program after the first seven students graduated in 2011, including just one woman.

Ms Roche said there were 10 to 15 women in her course, representing about 10% of the students.

She said being part of such a small minority was daunting but receiving the scholarship helped with that.

"It just builds the confidence that I have the support of the university and the government going into this profession," she said.

"Initially I was concerned about that but our lecturers have been really supportive saying how companies are really supportive of female engineers and have been encouraged to employ them.

"That's really encouraged me.

"Hopefully that plays out in the real world."

A state-of-the-art engineering learning hub will be constructed to improve education capacity at the university.

A series of professional development seminars for civil engineers featuring industry and academic experts ran last weekend.

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