15 June 2022

Alcoa backs women in engineering with financial, real-world support

2022 Bev Corless winners 2
Curtin University engineering students Vicki Cheah (left) and Mari Conradie (right) both won the 2022 Alcoa Bev Corless Women in Engineering Scholarship.

To celebrate Women in Engineering Day (June 23), Alcoa has announced the latest recipients of its annual women in engineering scholarships, which support female students and help drive greater diversity and equality in the profession.

Vicki Cheah, from Murdoch, and Mari Conradie, from Warnbro, have both been awarded 2022 Alcoa Bev Corless Women in Engineering Scholarships.

Each student will receive $7,500 to put towards their engineering studies at Curtin University as well as the opportunity to get hands-on work experience with Alcoa.

Mari, who is studying a double degree in Mechatronic Engineering and Computer Science, said she was grateful for the financial support from Alcoa as it would help relieve some of her educational expenses.

Vicki, who is studying a double degree in Mechanical Engineering and Finance, said she was honoured to be awarded the scholarship and was hopeful that as well as financial support she could prioritise her professional development.

Kate Leekong, who received the same scholarship for the last two years, now works part-time at the company’s Kwinana Alumina Refinery while she completes her final year of study at Curtin. She was offered the role after undertaking three-months work at the refinery as part of the scholarship.

Kate said the scholarship had given her invaluable support as well as hands-on experience, opening up other opportunities to develop her career.

“My work experience was great,” Kate said. “I had lots of freedom to explore different projects and areas of the refinery and I could use the time to concentrate on areas that I
wanted to pursue.

“Now that I work with Alcoa part-time, it helps me develop my skills for my final year of study as well as life beyond university.”

Alcoa, which operates bauxite mines and alumina refineries in the south west of WA, was the first company to initiate scholarships for women studying engineering at Curtin 16 years
ago – a move that inspired other companies to offer similar opportunities.

The scholarship, named in honour of a former Alcoa engineer, aims to encourage and support female university students studying full-time who are enrolled in their second, third,
fourth or fifth year in an engineering degree at Curtin.

Curtin University Director of Student Management Damon Wasserman said Alcoa had a longstanding commitment to building a female engineering workforce.

“The financial and industry experience support provided by Alcoa through the Bev Corless Scholarship helps build a diverse professional body, enables our students to focus on their
studies while also connecting their learning with real world practical experience,” Mr Wasserman said.

Alcoa of Australia Corporate Affairs Manager Suellen Jerrard said the Company was committed to providing a supportive community and workplace that fostered and valued the
strength and opportunity that came from diversity.