Jessica engages with industry reps at IPWEAQ conference.
Jessica engages with industry reps at IPWEAQ conference.

Jessica building a bright future for female engineers

SHE'S an entrepreneur, a big dreamer and a civil engineer.

But CQUniversity student Jessica Kahl doesn't want to be the exception, she rather hopes to become the rule.

The 21-year-old Rockhampton-raised woman started the the Dream Big Project two years ago to promote engineering in youth, particularly girls in regional centres, and raise awareness of the career opportunities.

Proof of what you can achieve, Jessica was recently hand picked to attend the IPWEAQ conference in Brisbane, which she said was an invaluable opportunity to connect with industry professionals as she completes the final months of her very hands-on CQUniversity degree.

Despite the overwhelming positives, Jessica said attending the conference did reaffirm an unintentional bias in the industry; that engineering was a male-dominated sector.

"I found there wasn't a lot of women which is obviously a huge concern, because we are building cities, and that should include absolutely everybody,” she said.

HIGH ACHIEVER: CQ University student Jessica Kahl was hand-selected to attend the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia conference this month.
HIGH ACHIEVER: CQ University student Jessica Kahl was hand-selected to attend the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia conference this month. Chris Ison ROK280313cstudent2

As she completes an undergraduate structural engineer role at Aurecon in Brisbane, focusing particularly on ports, Jessica said large projects such as Adani's Carmichael Mine factored into the future of the industry and career opportunities.

"It's all significantly important, obviously civil engineering is things that don't move so it's your roads, your bridges, your buildings and all of that contributes to a society which functions well,” she said.

"And the delivery of that is crucial in ensuring that our communities get benefit from it.

"So with mining, obviously the ports are significantly important, but the transport, the rail infrastructure to get the material to and from there, and how the community can use that in their society.

"It's the engagement that I really like and I want to see in my career because I want to do something that is meaningful and adds value to people who live and work in these conditions.”

Jessica said she sees civil engineering as society's foundation, and hasn't ruled out the thought it could lead her to the country's top job.

"I'm just going to take every opportunity as it comes and make sure I do the best for me and the people I surround myself in my life,” she said.

”I have considered going for Prime Minister... I think engineering is a platform which can leverage you for any career opportunity just because it goes through the technical stuff, skills, the building of community and tying all that together really sets you up for anything you want to do.”

For more on Jessica Kahl's Dream Big Project, visit dreambigengineerbig.com



Aboriginal artist, political activist wins $50K art award

Aboriginal artist, political activist wins $50K art award

The Gold Award is one of the richest art prizes in Australia

CQ house destroyed in 'suspicious' fire

CQ house destroyed in 'suspicious' fire

Two police officers suffered smoke inhalation

SCAM: Drought-hit farmers targeted by fake hunters

SCAM: Drought-hit farmers targeted by fake hunters

Police say farmers have enough to worry about with drought

Local Partners