Practical Experience

Studying with the Faculty of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences (ECMS) enables you to gain practical experience through a range of projects, internships, placements and industry-led teaching.

Practical experience

Practical experience is designed to prepare you for graduate work environments and provide opportunities to apply newly acquired skills to real-life situations. It enables you to develop connections with prospective employers through a range of practical projects, internships, placements and industry-led teaching.

All Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) and Master of Engineering* students are required to complete an approved practical experience.

  • All undergraduate students in pre-2019 engineering degrees will need to complete 12 weeks of practical experience, consisting of at least 6 weeks' engineering (industry) experience. 
  • All undergraduate students in the new-curriculum engineering degrees will need to complete 8 weeks' engineering-only experience, and enrol in 6 units of practical experience coursework. 
  • All* Master of Engineering students will need to complete 12 weeks of practical experience, consisting of at least 6 weeks' engineering (industry) experience. 

You must complete both your academic requirements and practical experience to be eligible to graduate and obtain professional membership with Engineers Australia.

*Students in Master of Software Engineering and Master of Petroleum Engineering do not need to complete practical experience.

  • The essentials

    Your practical experience may be a combination of engineering and general practical experience, but must consist of at least six weeks’ approved engineering experience. 

    Engineering experience

    Industry placements must be undertaken in an engineering environment, under a qualified engineer’s supervision (someone eligible for Engineers Australia corporate membership).

    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 planning and analysis
    • design, drafting and installation
    • operations and maintenance
    • testing or repair of engineering works, facilities, equipment or software.

    General practical experience

    General practical experience opportunities must expose you to an organisation that may provide an opportunity to develop a leadership role. While some areas of work are not appropriate for engineering experience, they may be suitable for general experience if the practical skills learnt can be easily transferred to an engineering-related work environment.

    Examples of suitable placements include:

    • tradesperson assistance (e.g. plumber, electrician, mechanic)
    • data processing
    • administrative or secretarial work in an office environment
    • supervisory roles.

    Examples of unsuitable placements include:

    • shop assistant, bar, hotel or restaurant work (non-supervisory)
    • supermarket night-fill
    • delivery or courier work.

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

    Total hours: meeting the requirement

    Placements can be part- or full-time. The number of weeks approved will be based on a 36.75-hour working week (i.e. 8 weeks x 36.75 hours = 294 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.

    When is the deadline for completing my practical experience?

    Claims for practical experience recognition must be lodged with the faculty office no later than three weeks before the Graduations Office’s conferral application deadline. See the section ‘Having your completed practical experience recognised’ for more information.

  • Finding your practical experience in Australia

    It’s ultimately your responsibility to arrange your practical experience placements. Taking on this task allows you to develop and practise the skills you’ll need when searching for graduate employment. But rest assured, you’ll have plenty of support, including through the resources listed below.

    ECMS news 

    We promote opportunities for local and overseas placements in our ECMS news.

    Career Hub

    Managed by the University’s Careers Service, our online Career Hub enables you to search opportunities for paid and unpaid internships or placements. Graduate and full-time opportunities are also listed.

    Employer presentation events are regularly held on campus, providing valuable opportunities to meet company representatives. Subscribe and register to receive notifications and updates regarding when employers will be on campus.

    You can log in to, and register with, Career Hub using your Student ID and password.

    The University’s Careers Service can also help you find and take up volunteer opportunities that may count towards your degree’s practical experience requirements.

    Local opportunities

    Many students arrange practical experience with local and interstate companies. The following companies have accommodated the faculty's students over the past 12 months:

    Engineers Australia: EA Connect

    EA Connect is a free service for student and graduate members of Engineers Australia. It promotes work placement opportunities suitable for all training levels in one secure and exclusive location. Search by location and engineering discipline to find the right match for you. Opportunities are constantly updated, so be sure to check back regularly.

    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.

  • Overseas experiences

    Practical experience may be completed either in Australia or overseas. The application process is slightly different, depending on where you go. It is very important that you read about studying overseas in conjunction with the application process information below, as this way you will find out about the different overseas study experiences.

    Application process

    Prior to leaving Australia:

    1. Once you have researched different destinations and decided where you would like to do your practical experience, you will need to obtain approval. Download the Conditional Pre-Approval for Practical Experience (Overseas) form and arrange to meet with your school's practical experience coordinator.

    2. Submit the completed and approved Conditional Pre-Approval for Practical Experience (Overseas) form to the Faculty of ECMS office either in person, at Level 1 Ingkarni Wardli building, or via email:

    3. You are also required to register with Study Overseas through the Global Learning Application System (GLAS). After logging into GLAS, go to Internship or Placement. You’ll then be required to provide background information regarding the placement.

      Note: Question 4 asks you to 'provide course information'. For the purposes of the Faculty of ECMS, it is sufficient to just write 'Practical Experience' (the system won't let you leave it blank). For Question 5, indicate you are ready to receive faculty approval.

    4. A student advisor from the faculty will review your application and eligibility and, all being well, approve the application. Applications are processed as quickly as possible. However, you should allow 2-3 weeks for busy times. Keep checking your application’s status to see when the approval has been granted.

    When you return to Australia:

    1. Complete and submit a Practical Experience Approval form.
    2. Refer to 'After your experience' for other requirements.

    There are several overseas experiences that can count towards your practical experience requirements. You can also choose to complete your practical experience at an overseas engineering firm. Some of the opportunities are listed below.

    Engineers Without Borders

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

    Project Everest

    Project Everest regularly offers ventures that can be presented in lieu of practical experience. To search for available study tours and opportunities, visit Project Everest.

    Find out more about studying overseas

  • Before you start

    Introduction letters

    The faculty can provide an introduction letter, which may be presented to a potential employer when seeking a placement. The letter will confirm you’re a student of the University seeking an opportunity to fulfil a practical experience requirement as part of your degree.

    If you require a letter, you can request it in person at the faculty office, on level 1 in the Ingkarni Wardli building, or lodge it via email.

    Insurance cover

    Unpaid practical experience

    When undertaking unpaid placements (volunteer), you must apply for University of Adelaide’s liability insurance cover before you begin your placement. Please read the Work Experience and Community Placement Guide and follow the steps below to complete the application form:

    • Part A - Student completes and signs
    • Part B - provide the host organisation’s details.
    • Part C - host organisation to read.
    • Part D - host organisation to sign and provide you with proof of their current Public Liability Insurance Certificate of Currency. Although you (the student) are covered under the University's Certificate of Currency, this ensures the company entering into the agreement is also insured, should one of their employees cause you injury or loss.
    • Part E - lodge the form with the Ask ECMS Faculty Office on level 1 of the Ingkarni Wardli building.
    • Once completed, provide a copy to the host organisation.

    When undertaking paid practical experience you’re 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. For more information, see the Work Experience and Community Placement Guide.

  • During your experience

    In-placement support

    If during your practical experience placement you have any questions or concerns, contact the Ask ECMS team. They’ll either help you themselves, or refer you to the appropriate support service as required.

    Unfair treatment, bullying and harassment

    Ensuring your safety and wellbeing is of paramount concern for both the faculty and University. If you’re subjected to behaviour, or placed in a situation, that 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 in person.

    The University provides several avenues of support, and we’ll work with you to determine the most appropriate.

  • After your experience

    After completing your practical experience you’ll need to submit a written summary for assessment and approval.

    Submission is by completing the Practical Experience Application Form and submitting it to Ask ECMS at level 1 of the Ingkarni Wardli building between 10am and 4pm, Monday to Friday.

    If you are an engineering student, a key part of the assessment will be your ability to demonstrate experiences that address the Engineers Australia Stage 1 Competency Standards. It’s therefore important that you review these competency standards and address them within your submission.

    You should present your submission in the following sections:

    1. Company structure and operation (200 words)
      Describe the company, including its products or services, locations and number of employees, and outline the company structure.
    2. Responsibilities and work undertaken (200 words)
      Summarise the responsibilities and work you undertook.
    3. Professional development reflection (500-1000 words)
      Describe how your period of work experience has assisted in your development of the Engineers Australia Stage 1 Competency Standards. You must specify which competencies were developed and how.

      1-3 weeks: 500 words
      4-6 weeks: 1000 words
      7-12 weeks: 1500 words
  • Practical experience coordinators

    If you require further clarification regarding a practical experience placement, please contact your school’s practical experience coordinator.

    School Coordinator
    Australian School of Petroleum Mary Gonzalez
    School of Chemical Engineering Associate Professor Dzuy Nguyen
    School of Civil, Environmental and Mining Engineering Dr Noune Melkoumian
    School of Computer Science Professor Ali Babar
    School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering Associate Professor Nesimi Ertugrul
    School of Mechanical Engineering Dr Antoni Blazewicz

*All postgraduate students who commenced their Master of Engineering studies from semester 1 2016 must complete the practical experience requirement. If you commenced your Master of Engineering studies in 2015 or prior you are exempt from this requirement. Note: Master of Petroleum Engineering and Master of Software Engineering students do not require practical experience.