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Trust in the future

An exciting new scholarship for students in mining and petroleum engineering is helping make dreams come true while shoring up talent for the South Australian resources industry




“I feel very honoured to have been chosen”


As a child, Olivia Wheeler’s favourite thing was exploring for rocks; as an 18-year-old, her dream is to merge that childhood passion into a rewarding career – which is why she opted to study mining engineering with electives in geology at the University of Adelaide.


For Wheeler, this is the first opportunity to combine her passion with her studies. In Years 11 and 12 she studied English literature, maths methods, physics, and chemistry, as well as programming (MATLAB & C) at the University of Adelaide as part of a Headstart scholarship. But geology remained off the course list. 


“I was always disappointed that geology wasn’t a high school subject offered in SA,” Wheeler says. “So as soon as I saw I had a general elective in my mining engineering timetable, I picked geology: it is something I’ve always wanted to study and I feel it will compliment my studies as it gives me a bit of a deeper insight into the actual formation and study of the minerals being mined”. 


The opportunity to expand her horizons is also a drawcard. “Another thing that attracted me to mining engineering is the FIFO lifestyle – that’s something I’ve always been looking for,” she says. “I would like to initially start at Olympic Dam but I’m open to Queensland coal mines. Then, once I have experience within Australia, I would definitely look to moving internationally. I will travel pretty much anywhere.”


Wheeler is grateful to have the support of the Playford Trust scholarship behind her to help fund her pathway to mining. “The money makes a big difference because I pretty much financially support all my study myself,” she says. “It’s quite a heavy course load so I don’t get to do much part-time work, which means having the scholarship money helps in being able to successfully study without having to worry about my financial position. “I feel very honoured to have been chosen.”







“Because I’m young, I also want the ability to work while travelling, and this job allows that”


Callum Martin knows exactly what we wants from a career: to travel the world, meet new people and embrace every opportunity – which is why the 18-year-old has his sights set firmly on the resources industry.


“Petroleum engineers ensure society meets its energy demands, and there are a lot of job opportunities in the field, so I know that I can come straight out of university and into employment,” says Martin, who is currently in his first year of a double degree in petroleum engineering and geology at the University of Adelaide. “Because I’m young, I also want the ability to work while travelling, and this job allows that.”


But before he sets sail for Canada or Europe, Martin’s plan is to build his skills on home soil. “I would like to work in Australia at first to establish myself and see what the industry is about,” he says. “Then, maybe a year or two later, see if there’s an opportunity in a different country where I could potentially improve my understanding and learn new skills.”

Being awarded a two-year scholarship from the Playford Trust scholarship has helped put Martin on the pathway to a career of his dreams. “It’s not every day you’re going to get $20,000 over two years – it’s a lot of money for someone just out of school,” he says. “It will ultimately help how I go throughout my studies.” 


Having the trust monitoring his progress over the next two years is also a driving factor to succeed, but it’s not the only one. “There is a bit of extra pressure in that they’re trusting I do well, but I feel for myself I have to do well anyway to set myself up for my future,” he says.