Case Study Info

  • Case Study : WASM ALUMNI
  • Alumni Member : Suzy Urbanlak
  • Category : Career

Teaching wasn’t my first career choice. I loved being a geologist, getting out into the field and learning from the Earth.

But as a single mother of three young boys, maintaining my resources career was not an option. At that time, in the mid-nineties, the industry just didn’t have the flexibility to support single working mothers. The only way for me to fulfill my dual roles of mother and breadwinner was to go into education.

I had no inclination to become a teacher, but it was the only pathway available to me at the time. Despite this, I gave it my all. I took with me the lessons I learnt in industry. I developed my teaching philosophy; that science learning should be grounded in real-world context and applicable outside of the classroom. I knew that I was training young scientists, not just lecturing high school students. Those philosophies started in my first year of teaching, and continued through the next decade to eventually become CoRE (Centre of Resources Excellence).

As a young geologist I had noticed an absence of graduates from WA working in the resources industry. This was a gap I wanted to bridge through my teaching; I wanted to develop home-grown talent to service the industry’s future needs. In 2007, three years after I began teaching, my first group of alumni were ready to take on tertiary education.

WASM is the obvious next-step for many of my CoRE alumni. Like CoRE, WASM provides hands-on, industry-relevant learning. Numerous Kent Street alumni have progressed through WASM and on to successful careers in the resources industry, including one of my sons. I encourage all of my alumni to go to Kalgoorlie, to network and get some hands-on experience, and ease their transition into the field.

The connection between WASM alumni and the development and expansion of the CoRE learning model is critical, as it shows students the diverse opportunities available to them through a resources education. I am now seeing my vision to connect education, industry, and government come to fruition. These student scientists have a greater career awareness and resources literacy than their predecessors. They understand how science and engineering work and why they are important, and they’re well-equipped to tackle the 21st century challenges that lie ahead.

It is my hope that this synergistic relationship between the CoRE expansion program, WASM, and WASMA will continue into the future, with graduates from both programs supporting the next generation entering the resources industry. It is their passion and drive that will see the continued development of this pivotal industry here in WA.