26 September, 2023
UniSQ’s Head Start Program sparking bright careers in industry
DESPITE having the perfect surname for it, Corey Plant never initially set out to work in the agricultural world.
In fact, Mr Plant wasn’t sure what he wanted to do until some dedicated high school teachers helped guide him on the path towards a Head Start course at the University of Southern Queensland (UniSQ).
“As a kid growing up in the rural area, I just loved creating things. I always had that creative mindset and imagination of a child, but also that typical child attitude of not really enjoying school,” Mr Plant said.
“But I had a couple of really invested teachers in Grade Nine and 10 at Crow’s Nest State School who opened my eyes to the possibilities of things I enjoyed, like math and science and woodworking,” he said.
“And then, in Year 11 and 12 at Toowoomba Christian College, my teachers encouraged me to do a Head Start engineering course through the University of Southern Queensland.”
Head Start is the University of Southern Queensland’s academic extension program for high-achieving Year 10, 11 or 12 students. The Head Start program gives students a taste of what university is really like by studying one university subject a semester while working towards their QCE.
It was this Head Start course which sparked Mr Plant’s love for mechatronic engineering, and which eventually led him down the path to a Bachelor of Engineering and into an academic career with the University’s Centre for Agricultural Engineering.
“It wasn’t until the final year of my degree when I did professional work experience with the Centre for Agricultural Engineering – I was doing a lot of machine vision work and really enjoyed it,” he said.
“At the end of that work experience, I was offered a managerial role and one thing led to another, and now I’m employed full time with the University’s School of Agriculture and Environmental Science!”
Mr Plant’s current role as Research Assistant and Hardware Technician sees him involved in hardware setup for a range of University research projects – whether it be setting up sensors in the field, working with machinery, developing automation, and facilitating data management.
And while Mr Plant didn’t initially see an obvious link between mechatronic engineering and agriculture, he said it had been a perfect match for his skillset.
“That’s been the most exciting and fun part for me; all the skills that I have in electronics and tech – all the nerdy stuff – it’s really fun to apply all of that to the agricultural industry.”
And despite Mr Plant’s obvious gift for engineering, he said it might never have been possible without that University of Southern Queensland Head Start course.
“I don’t actually think I got a good enough SAT score to get into Engineering, but because I had done a Head Start, I had a guaranteed place at the University of Southern Queensland.
“That’s the beauty of Head Start – I wasn’t limited by my scores, and I could actually do what I wanted to do. It was a lifesaver.”
Find out more about the University of Southern Queensland Head Start courses available for high-achieving high school students here: