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Practical Experience

All engineering students have the opportunity to apply the skills and knowledge gained throughout their studies to real world problems.

Students are required to undertake a minimum of 12 weeks approved practical experience outside of normal class time in Australia or overseas. The practical experience component may be a combination of engineering and general practical experience, but must consist of at least six weeks of industry experience under the supervision of a qualified engineer.

Once practical experience is undertaken and the academic requirements of the degree are met, students are considered to have completed the requirements of their engineering program. Undertaking a period of practical experience means that not only do students graduate with on-the-job experience, they also qualify for professional membership of Engineers Australia, the national engineering accreditation body.

  • Developing Professional Competencies

    In order to fulfil the requirements of accreditation of your engineering degree to international standards, the University must certify that our engineering graduates have attained the Engineers Australia Stage 1 Professional Competencies, required in order to commence professional practice upon graduation. The duties undertaken during your practical experience placement must serve the purpose of contributing to the development of the full set of professional competencies.

    List of Stage 1 Professional Competencies:

    1. Knowledge and Skill Base

    1.1 Comprehensive, theory based understanding of the underpinning natural and physical sciences and the engineering fundamentals applicable to the engineering discipline.

    1.2 Conceptual understanding of the mathematics, numerical analysis, statistics, and computer and information sciences, which underpin the engineering discipline.

    1.3 In-depth understanding of specialist bodies of knowledge within the engineering discipline.

    1.4 Discernment of knowledge development and research directions within the engineering discipline.

    1.5 Knowledge of contextual factors impacting the engineering discipline.

    1.6 Understanding of the scope, principles, norms, accountabilities and bounds of contemporary engineering practice in the specific discipline.

    2. Engineering Application Ability

    2.1 Application of established engineering methods to complex engineering problem solving.

    2.2. Fluent application of engineering techniques, tools and resources.

    2.3. Application of systematic engineering synthesis and design processes.

    2.4. Application of systematic approaches to the conduct and management of engineering projects.

    3. Professional and Personal Attributes

    3.1 Ethical conduct and professional accountability.

    3.2. Effective oral and written communication in professional and lay domains.

    3.3. Creative, innovative and proactive demeanour.

    3.4. Professional use and management of information.

    3.5. Orderly management of self, and professional conduct.

    3.6. Effective team membership and team leadership.

    Please refer to the Engineers Australia Stage 1 Competency Standard for further information.

  • What Are The Benefits?

    Exposure to Industry
    The main benefit of undertaking practical experience is the preparation it gives students for graduate roles in their chosen field. It enables students to appreciate the nature of the work environment and provides opportunities to apply skills learned at university to real-life situations likely faced by graduates in the workforce. Pradtical experience allows students to explore and experience different aspects of industry and, through hands-on training, they may be exposed to a variety of working conditions, union agreements and professional relationships and interactions with other engineers, professionals and levels of management.

    Students will learn about company structure and operation, appreciate the responsibilities of engineers at various levels and be exposed to a greater diversity and scale of plant equipment other than that provided at the University.

    Practical placements are beneficial as they offer:

    • first-hand experience working as an engineering professional
    • the opportunity to apply technical knowledge and engineering methods to real-life situations
    • exposure to working with other engineers in a professional organisation
    • development opportunities to increase technical, interpersonal, and oral and written communication skills
    • the opportunity to observe engineers interacting with other professional groups.

    Future Employment Prospects
    Many employers use practical experience as an opportunity to assess new employees for future employment. Likewise, undertaking practical experience can not only help students clarify and determine a preferred career path, it also helps to establish beneficial industry connections and facilitate the development of key relationships between organisations and potential future employees.

    Students are advised to use their practical experience wisely, demonstrating their ability to take responsibility, make sound decisions and apply their technical skills. While some students may ultimately secure post-graduation employment as a result of their practical experience, others at the very least may gain a reference; adding a practical experience supervisor as a referee on their CV.

  • Practical Experience:
    Engineering or General Experience?

    A minimum of 12 weeks practical experience is required in order for students to complete a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) degree. Up to six weeks of general practical experience may be included in the 12 week period and work may be obtained at more than one company. To receive approval for the practical experience component of an engineering degree, the following guidelines must be followed:

    • The number of weeks approved will be based on a 36.75 hour working week, i.e. 12 weeks x 36.75 hours = 441 hours.
    • Public holidays, sickness and time off are taken into account when calculating the number of hours worked and are deducted from the final number.
    • Placements may be part-time or full-time, but must be undertaken on a continuous basis for a period no less than the equivalent of three weeks, i.e. 3 weeks x 36.75 hours = 110.25 hours.
    • The exception to the minimum three week rule is if you have less than three weeks remaining to complete the required twelve weeks.

    Engineering Experience
    Placements in industry must be undertaken in an engineering environment and the tasks performed under the supervision of a qualified engineer who is eligible for corporate membership of Engineers Australia. Generally, this means that your practical experience supervisor should be an engineering graduate with at least three year's experience.

    12 weeks of industry placement will provide you the greatest benefit, but the minimum requirement is six weeks with the remainder consisting of general experience (see below). To get the most out of your placement, you should ideally be exposed to a range of engineering activities that fall into the following categories:

    • Project management and planning
    • Analysis
    • Design, drafting
    • Construction
    • Manufacturing
    • Installation
    • Operation
    • Maintenance
    • Testing or repair of engineering works, facilities, equipment or software

    Note: it is not necessary for the engineering work to exactly match your degree. For instance, a telecommunications engineering student could work on engineering maintenance in a power station.

    General Experience
    General practical experience opportunities must expose you to an organisation that may provide an opportunity to develop a leadership role, or perhaps is in a setting that presents challenges similar to those faced by an engineer.

    While several areas of work are not appropriate for Engineering Experience, they may be suitable for General Experience due to the practical skills learnt, which can be easily transferred to an engineering-related work environment. For example:

    • Shop assistant with a supervisory role
    • Process worker on an assembly line
    • Installation of garden watering systems
    • Non-engineering computer software development (e.g. basic website development)
    • Tradesperson assistance (e.g. plumber, electrician, mechanic)
    • Youth camp leader
    • Data processing
    • Administrative or secretarial work in an office environment

    Unsuitable Placements
    The following examples are areas of work that are generally not appropriate for either Engineering Experience or General Experience:

    • Shop assistant (non-supervisory)
    • Bar, hotel or restaurant work
    • Fruit picking or general gardening
    • Shelf stacker in a supermarket
    • Delivery or courier work
    • Painting and decorating

    Practical experience with a business owned by a close family member is also not acceptable, as it does not challenge students to source positions themselves, and it also may create potential conflict of interest when authenticating the student's practical experience.

  • When Do I Start?

    Students are encouraged to begin looking for practical experience placements as early as the end of their first year of study, with the intention of undertaking regular placements throughout their degree. The type of work sought should change as students progress through their degree and acquire/expand skills and interests.

    The following diagram can be used as a guide for staging practical experience through to graduation:

    For your first placement - when you are still relatively unskilled in engineering - look for general process or labouring work at the end of your first year with the aim of acquainting yourself with basic labour relations.

    This should give you the opportunity to familiarise yourself with general trade or construction activities. For example, a tradesperson's assistant would be appropriate.

    You should attempt to obtain work corresponding to a technician or engineering assistant level. Assembly, testing of equipment, manufacturing, maintenance or simple design work would be appropriate

    Research Project completion, practical experience completion and graduation.

  • How Do I Find Placements?

    It is the student's responsibility to arrange practical experience placements. This responsibility allows students to practice the same skills needed when searching for graduate employment. Students should attempt to gain more than the minimum requirement if possible.

    Is Practical Experience Paid?
    Some organisations may provide paid practical experience, but students are advised to pursue unpaid practical experience in order to be covered by the University's liability insurance cover. Note: if you are participating in paid work, you are covered under the employer's insurance.

    Where Can I Seek Practical Experience Opportunities?
    Opportunities for practical experience may present in a number of ways. Students may choose to undertake a placement overseas, interstate, locally or as part of a study tour. It may even be the case that a student has already completed some practical experience prior to commencing their program, in which case they may claim it upon commencement of study.

    Local and Interstate Opportunities
    Many students arrange practical experience with local and interstate companies. Please refer to the below list of practical experience hosts that have accommodated ECMS students in the past.

    Opportunities are also regularly promoted via the ECMS blog and the Careers Service's Career Hub.

    Chemical Engineering
    Adelaide Brighton Cement Birkenhead SA
    Bell Sunshine VIC
    Exxonmobil Melbourne VIC
    GPA Engineering Unley SA
    Nyrstar Port Pirie SA
    OZ Minerals Parkside SA
    Redarc Technologies Lonsdale SA
    Yalumba Angaston SA
    University of South Australia - Ian Wark Research Institute Mawson Lakes SA

    Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering
    Afri Coast Engineers SA Pty Ltd Port Elizabeth South Africa
    Corrosion Control Engineering Malaga WA
    Esso Australia Pty Ltd Melbourne VIC
    Hansen Yuncken Dulwich SA
    Herriot Consulting Dulwich SA
    Northern Territory Government, Department of Infrastucture Alice Springs NT
    Precision Aeroform Australia Port Adelaide SA
    A Power Networks Marleston SA
    TMK Consulting Engineers Adelaide SA
    Tonkin Consulting Kent Town SA

    Computer Science
    DSTO Edinburgh SA
    Maptek Glenside SA
    Pixel Force Norwood SA
    Planet Software Mile End SA
    Svelte Studios - Svelte Australia Pty Ltd Adelaide SA
    Topcon Precision Agriculture Mawson Lakes SA
    The University of Adelaide -
    School of Computer Science
    Adelaide SA

    Electrical and Electronic Engineering
    APC Integration Stepney SA
    CodeHire Marrickville NSW
    DSTO Edinburgh SA
    Ellex Adelaide SA
    Hunter Water Australia Pty Ltd Mayfield West NSW
    Kimberly-Clark Australia Millicent SA
    Pelican Point Power Ltd / GDF Suez Australian Energy Outer Harbour SA
    Redarc Electronics Pty Ltd Lonsdale SA
    TDS Software Solutions Lonsdale SA

    Mechanical Engineering
    Aurecon Adelaide SA
    Bluescope Steel St Marys SA
    Brumby Aircraft Australia Cowra NSW
    CSIRO Sandy Bay VIC
    Land Transport Authority Singapore Singapore
    Precision Aeroform Australia Port Adelaide SA
    Santos Adelaide SA
    SA Pathology Adelaide SA
    South Australian Sports Institute Kidman Park SA
    Woodside Energy Ltd Perth WA

    Petroleum Engineering
    Alexandrides Engineering and Management Services Pty Ltd West Beach WA
    Baker Hughes Thebarton SA
    Chevron Australia Pty Ltd Perth WA
    CNOOC NWS Private Ltd Perth WA
    Petro-King Adelaide SA
    Precision Aeroform Australia Port Adelaide SA
    Santos Adelaide SA
    The University of Adelaide -
    Australian School of Petroleum
    Adelaide SA

    Other Resources:

    Engineers Australia: EA Connect
    EA Connect is a free service for student and graduate members of Engineers Australia. It promotes work placement opportunities in one secure and exclusive location and provides an exclusive website for student and graduate members to find work placement opportunities suited to their level. Search by location and engineering discipline to find the right match. Opportunities are constantly being updates, so return regularly for newly listed positions.

    If you're already a member, log-in and view the latest opportunities. Alternatively, sign up for free membership using the student online application system. As soon as your application is processed you'll be able to log in to EA Connect, plus you can browse the member site to access a range of information and resources to help guide your career.

    Careers Service: Meet Employers
    Find out about opportunities and meet company representatives at employer presentation events held in Hub Central. Subscribe and register to receive notifications and updates of when employers will be on campus.

    The Careers Service can also help with volunteer opportunities that may be appropriate for practical experience.

    Faculty/School Noticeboards and Blogs
    Check designated school/faculty noticeboards and digital signage for promotional material from employers seeking students for practical experience opportunities.

    The ECMS blog regularly posts placement/job-related opportunities.

    Global Learning: Overseas Opportunities
    Off-location experience is becoming increasingly attractive to employers and may be something you would like to consider. In fact, overseas experience is a great addition to your resume when you are looking for full-time engineering employment after graduation, as it shows employers you are keen, flexible and open to new ideas.

    Some options to consider are self-reporting programs or study tours where students participate either independently, with their school, or through an external agency or third party provider. Details are available on the Global Learning website.

    Engineers Without Borders (EWB)
    EWB regularly offers design summits that can be presented in lieu of practical experience. To search for available study tours and opportunities, visit the EWB website.

  • Am I Covered by Insurance?

    Students undertaking unpaid practical experience are covered under the University of Adelaide’s liability insurance cover.

    Students undertaking placements at the end of the year will find that the current year’s certificate will run out in December. The Certificate of Currency for the following year will be available on the website from mid January. In the meantime, students intending to work from the 1st of January are advised to contact the Faculty of ECMS Office via email:

    Students undertaking paid practical experience are covered by the employer’s insurer and the employer is advised to remind their insurer that a student is working on the premises.

    Note: travel insurance is provided by the university free of charge.

    Insurance Form
    In the case of unpaid practical experience, to ensure your insurance cover is in place before you begin your placement, please follow the below steps:

    1. Organise your practical experience placement and confirm who will be your local supervisor.
    2. Complete the Student Placement Agreement in the Insurance Guide.
    3. Part A - Student completes and signs
    4. Part B - Complete the host organisation details
    5. Part C - Host organisation to read
    6. Part D - Host organisation to sign and provide the student with proof of their current Public Liability Insurance Certificate of Currency. Although the student is covered under the University's Certificate of Currency, this is to ensure that the company entering into the agreement is also insured should one of their employees cause you injury or loss.
    7. Part E - Student to lodge the form with their school > Head of School to sign.
    8. Provide a copy to the host organisation and hand the form into the faculty office for filing. The Faculty Office will record where you will undertake your placement prior to commencement.
  • Important Information and Deadlines

    In Placement Support

    If during your Practical Experience placement you have any questions or concerns, contact the Ask ECMS team. We can help, or refer you to the appropriate support service as required.

    Unfair Treatment, Bullying and Harassment.

    Ensuring your safety and well-being is of paramount concern for both the faculty and university. If you are subjected to behaviour or placed in a situation which causes distress, your placement provider should provide avenues to address your concerns. This can range from mediation to immediate removal from the situation.

    Regardless, please contact the Ask ECMS team immediately to report or discuss. You can contact us confidentially via email, phone, or visiting us in person.

    The university provides several avenues of support, and we will work with you to determine the most appropriate.

    Introduction Letters

    The faculty office can provide an introduction letter, which may be presented to a potential employer when seeking a placement. The letter confirms that you are a student of the University who is seeking an opportunity to fulfil a 12 week practical experience requirement as part of your degree.

    If you require a letter, please lodge a request via email at or present in person at the faculty office reception; level 1, Ingkarni Wardli building.

    Practical Experience and Graduation

    Claims for recognition of practical experience must be lodged with the faculty office no later than three weeks before the conferral application deadline, which is set by the Graduations Office.

    For dates and important deadlines, please check the Graduations Office website.

    Important dates


  • Conditional Pre-Approval for Practical Experience

    All practical experience is formally approved once the placement is completed with the exception of overseas practical experience and placements undertaken on study tours, which receive conditional approval prior to departure and formal approval upon return.

    Students need to complete a Practical Experience Application Form* for all placement opportunities undertaken. See below for specific instructions depending on how your placement was completed, which may be one of the following:

    1. Local or interstate placements
    2. Suitable work undertaken prior to starting your program of study
    3. Overseas practical experience placements
    4. Practical experience as part of a study tour
    5. Contract of employment presented in lieu of practical experience

    *Note: If you have trouble editing the online forms provided in this section you may need to change your browser.

    How to apply for 1) and 2):

    1. Complete a Practical Experience Application Form
    2. Print and sign the form
    3. Provide a business stamp OR attach a business card
    4. Ensure the employer has signed the form
    5. Hand in the hard copy form to the ECMS faculty office, level 1 Ingkarni Wardli building, or email to

    How to apply for 3)

    Prior to Leaving Australia:

    Receive Practical Experience Conditional Pre-approval

    1. Complete a Practical Experience - Conditional Pre-approval Form* and arrange to meet with your School Practical Experience Coordinator
    2. You must register your overseas placement by lodging an online Self-Reporting Placement form via the Global Learning web site
    3. Hand in hard copy form to the ECMS Faculty Office, level 1 Ingkarni Wardli building, or email to
    4. Refer to the 'Am I Covered by Insurance' section link and follow the steps to complete an Insurance Form

    Note if you are already overseas and undertake a period of practical experience while you are away, you must also register your placement using the self-reporting link. If you are unable to seek pre-approval while you are away, please lodge an approval application upon your return.

    *Note: If you have trouble editing the form online you may need to change your browser.

    Upon return to Australia:

    1. Complete a Practical Experience Application Form
    2. Complete the 1500 word summary outlining the professional competencies you have achieved during your placement
    3. Print and sign the form
    4. Ensure the employer has signed the form to confirm the placement was completed and the duties undertaken
    5. Attach your practical experience exchange pre-approval email received from the Faculty Office, which contains your conditional approval
    6. Hand in your application to the ECMS Faculty Office, level 1 Ingkarni Wardli building, or email to

    How to apply for 4)

    Prior to Leaving Australia:

    1. In the first instance, access the exchange information on the Global Learning website
    2. Use the tabs to navigate the site, choosing an exchange experience, a study tour or a short program you may be interested in. Read the instructions on eligibility, choosing a country and host university, funding opportunities, etc.
    3. Complete a Practical Experience - Conditional Pre-approval Form and arrange to meet with your School Practical Experience Coordinator
    4. Lodge an Application Questionnaire form through the Global Learning Application Systems (GLAS) portal
    5. Upload the signed Practical Experience - Conditional Pre-approval Form with the application using the 'Transcript Upload' link. The Faculty will confirm receipt of your pre-approval and save it to your student file
    6. Refer to the 'Am I Covered by Insurance' section above and follow the steps to complete an Insurance Form
    Upon Return to Australia

    1. Complete a Practical Experience Application Form
    2. Complete the 1500 word summary outlining the professional competencies you have achieved during your placement
    3. Print and sign the form
    4. Ensure the employer has signed the form to confirm the placement was completed and the duties undertaken
    5. Attach your practical experience exchange pre-approval email received from the Faulty Office, which contains your conditional approval
    6. Hand in your application in hard copy to the ECMS Faculty Office, level 1 Ingkarni Wardli building, or email to

    How to apply for 5)

    1. Obtain a contract of employment with a start date in the near future
    2. Ensure you have signed the contract and it is co-signed by your employer
    3. Complete a Practical Experience Application Form
    4. Print and sign the form
    5. Hand in the hard copy form and a copy of your contract to the ECMS faculty office, level 1 Ingkarni Wardli building, or email
  • How Do I Address the Professional Competencies?

    You are required to reflect on your development of the professional competencies, under the following key areas: Knowledge and Skill Base; Engineering Application Ability; and Professional and Personal Attributes (refer to 'Developing Professional Competencies' above). There is no need to discuss each competency individually but you should aim to write a 1500 word summary describing the work you undertook and the competencies you developed during your placement(s).

    Present your summary in sections:

    1. A section describing the company - its products or services, locations, number of employees and outline of company structure

    2. A section describing your work - the project or system in which you worked, your role, and details of your specific contribution

    3. A section reflecting on your experience in terms of the Professional Competencies – Reflect on how you developed specific competencies, how you handled any problems, and in what ways the experience was valuable or difficult. It might help you to think about the extent to which you think you possessed these competencies before, and then after your period of practical experience.

    Use the check boxes above to help you identify which professional competencies you have addressed in your summary.

    Some useful words to help describe your experiences are:

    Analysis, design, drafting, construction, testing, repair, manufacturing, installation, operation, maintenance, facilities, working with electronic equipment, process, extraction, ventilation, drainage, filtration, pollution, refining, optimising, materials, control, assembly, programming, software, supervising, budgeting, communication, quality control, inventory, planning, implementation, website development, initiative, responsibility, leadership, creativity, data processing, attention to detail, information management, ordering, accuracy.

    Note: the 1500 word summary is applicable for a 12 week placement. If you participate in a shorter placement, you should aim for the following word count:

    1-3 weeks: 500 words
    4-6 weeks: 1000 words
    7-12 weeks: 1500 words

    For further information, please refer to the Engineers Australia Stage 1 Competency Standards.

  • Practical Experience Coordinators

    If you require further clarification regarding a practical experience placement, please contact the Practical Experience Coordinator in your school.



    Contact your school for an appointment

    Australian School of Petroleum Ms Mary Gonzalez Ph: 8313 8017
    School of Chemical Engineering

    Associate Professor Dzuy Nquyen

    Ph: 8313 5456
    School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering Dr Noune Melkoumian Ph: 8313 6003
    School of Computer Science Prof. Ali Babar Ph: 8313 5586
    School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering A/Prof. Nesimi Ertugrul Ph: 8313 5277
    School of Mechanical Engineering Dr Antoni Blazewicz Ph: 8313 5460
Faculty of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences
Ask ECMS Level 1, Ingkarni Wardli



T: +61 8 8313 4148
F: +61 8 8313 6492

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