Diploma in Mechanical Engineering
Fiji National University
2019 – 2021
Shaneel Prasad graduated with a Diploma of Mechanical Engineering and was also awarded the Fiji National University Gold Medal for outstanding student performance!
In this interview, Mr Prasad talks about his academic journey and the exciting moment he received his medal.
1. Why did you want to study Mechanical Engineering?
I joined the Fiji Sugar Corporation (FSC) in 2012 as an FNU apprentice in fitting and machining. In 2017, I successfully completed and was awarded Best Apprentice in Fitting and Machining and Overall Best Apprentice in Fiji. As part of the win, I went on a two-week industrial visit to Auckland.
I chose this field because it was the next level of study for my trade. I wanted to gain the certification to complement my work experience. There is also a lot of economic growth in Fiji in terms of production and manufacturing which means more demand for mechanical technicians and engineers.
In 2018, I applied for and received the Australia Awards Pacific Scholarship (AAPS) which helped me to further my theoretical knowledge in Mechanical Engineering.
2. How did you hear about Australia Awards and what made you apply?
I saw advertisements on social media and in the newspaper. I also spoke to a workmate who studied Building and Civil Engineering through Australia Awards. I also attended an Australia Awards information session at Lautoka’s USP campus with my friends, which further encouraged me to apply.
3. How was your experience as an AAPS recipient?
The scholarship experience was really rewarding, and I must say it is one of the best scholarships in Fiji. It gives opportunity to mature age workers with work experience to further their education while not being worried about other commitments.
The scholarship helped me to meet and interact with students from other islands and learn from academic experts including senior lecturers and the head of the department.
4. What knowledge and skills did you gain during your study?
The course enabled me to develop all-round knowledge in various engineering fields and at the same time, gain a high level of professionalism in this field with an insight into engineering management principles.
5. How did COVID affect your studies and how did you manage any challenges?
During the Suva lockdown, we were in our final semester and our final project was due. The teaching and learning transitioned from face-to-face to online lectures and tutorials and this was difficult, as required a lot of discipline to meet the task deadlines.
6. You were awarded a Gold Medal from the College of Engineering – Congratulations! How did you feel when you found out you were a medal recipient? Please tell us about your journey up till this moment.
I graduated in December 2021 and received the Gold Medal in a special awards ceremony held by Fiji National University on 25 March 2022.
During the course, I aimed to do my best and did not expect to be awarded with a Gold Medal. I just tried to keep a good Grade Point Average (GPA) as it would help me attain other scholarships for further studies in the future. Due to COVID, all graduations were cancelled, and my certificate was delivered to Lautoka’s FNU campus. I got an email on a late Friday afternoon, to attend a special awards ceremony and for a moment I did not believe it. It was an overwhelming moment. But it’s always good to get recognition for hard work as it gives you encouragement to do better.
7. What is the most valuable thing you’ve taken from your scholarship experience?
I learnt the importance of teamwork as I had two of my work colleagues under this same scholarship. Working together helped us to achieve more and gave us a better understanding of our units.
8. Where are you employed and what is your role?
I am employed with FSC in Lautoka, and this is my 10th year with the company. In 2020, I was promoted to Trainee Mechanical Engineer. My work revolves around mechanical engineering and maintenance works to minimize any breakdowns or mechanical stoppages that will affect production.
The skills I learned during the course help in thinking out of the box and using methods and practices learnt to maintain efficiency and production at the plant.
9. How do you succeed in this industry?
I succeed in this industry by being passionate about what I do. You will eventually start to enjoy your work, and this will lead to success. But it is important to be patient when things are not in your favour.
10. What/who motivates you?
My parents are my motivation. They have always encouraged me through the journey of being an Apprentice to a Trainee Engineer and completing 10 years with FSC. They have always taught me to be faithful with little and more will be added to it.
11. What are your plans – what’s next for you?
My plan is to continue building a successful career through gaining maximum work experience and on-the-job training and upgrading my theoretical knowledge in this field. Over the next five years, I wish to continue with further studies while climbing up the ranks.
12. What is your advice to other young Fijians who want to take up courses like mechanical engineering?
I would like to encourage young people to take up this course because it is a field in demand. Fiji’s economy is developing and there are a lot of manufacturing, food processing and textile plants investing in our economy. Our government is also encouraging Fijian-made products so the mechanical engineering sector will require a lot of qualified technicians and engineers to maintain the productivity of these plants and factories
Scholarships like AAPS will enable the mechanical engineering sector to cope with the challenge of increased engineering demand, through more qualified technicians and engineers, equipped with technical knowledge who are also sensitive to the needs of the society and environment.
I would like to thank Australia Awards for giving me the opportunity to grow in my field through a three-year fully funded scholarship. Australia Awards is a major contributor towards my success and the Gold Medal.