Some of the country's brightest young engineers are broadening their horizons through student placements with Parkes Shire Council.
The students are participants in the University of Sydney's Engineering Sydney Industry Placement Scheme (ESIPS), which places fourth year students with an employer to gain practical work experience.
During the six-month placement students undertake high-level investigative research with their host organisation.
Parkes Shire Council's Director Infrastructure, Andrew Francis said Council's engagement in the program evolved from a synergistic relationship with a third-party consultant.
"This is now the fourth year that Parkes has hosted ESIPS students," he said.
"It's such a positive experience for all involved."
"For students it is a valuable opportunity to apply knowledge and skills in a real-world environment, but for Council, it is an invaluable opportunity to harness highly specialised personnel and conduct research projects that might not otherwise be feasible," Mr Francis explained.
This year Parkes Shire Council supervised two ESIPS students, both of whom conducted substantial research, as well quite literally expanding their horizons - neither had spent time in regional NSW.
Hassi Al Kabanchi is studying a combined Bachelor of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering and Bachelor of Science.
He was placed at the Parkes Water Treatment Plant to develop tools for water resource management.
"It was a really interesting research topic, especially working in a regional environment where there are a significant drought issues," Hassi said.
Hassi conducted three projects within his six-month placement, including hydraulic modelling of the High Level Reservoir area, a chemical dosing optimisation project, and, most impressively, developing a telemetry system that could result in significant savings for Council each year.
"What you learn inside a university doesn't always translate to what happens outside in the workforce, but this placement means you can further yourself and really learn how industry works," Hassi said.
"It's been an incredible experience and I've been one hundred percent supported by workmates and supervisors. I definitely recommend it to anyone who is considering doing a student placement."
Hassi said that was surprised at how much he enjoyed living in a regional town.
"My host family was amazing, I've made a lot of friends and had a lot of new experiences, I have even seen frost for the first time."
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering student Anjana Hariharan applied to come to Parkes to challenge herself.
Her research project characterised the chlorine decay in the Parkes Recycled Water Distribution Network to identify the chlorine residual at end user sites. Anjana was based at the new Sewage Treatment Plant and the PMO.
"I think this project has allowed me to grow both professionally and personally. By gaining hands-on experience in the water industry, I have a much better idea of where I want to go moving forward," Anjana said.
"It also opened my eyes to the working world which in many ways is different from university."
Anjana said that her placement in Parkes gave her the space to expand herself in a professional and personal capacity.
"I would definitely recommend that students who have not experienced living in a regional town, or outside of Sydney for that matter, come here and immerse themselves in the place and fall in love with such kind people," she said.
"It's a completely different culture and showcases all the good things about regional town life."
Mr Francis said that Council is fortunate to have access to such a high calibre of students through the program.
"Their research outputs are fantastic, and based on what it would cost to commission the same research through consultants, it really represents great value for money. Not only that, Parkes Shire Council is contributing to the professional development of the next generation of specialist engineers."