James engineers a global career

James Daniell

German-based civil engineer James Daniell credits his student experience at the University of Adelaide for helping him to adjust to life and work in Europe. The combination of “world-class degrees, extracurricular activities and a multicultural campus” prepares students for a global career, he says.

Name: James Edward Daniell

University degree details, including year of graduation:
Bachelor of Engineering (Civil and Structural). 1st Class Hons 2006.
Bachelor of Science (Geology and Geophysics) 2006. Honours Alumni University Medal 2007.

Details of any scholarships received/awarded?
General Sir John Monash Award 2009.
MEEES (Erasmus Mundus) EU Scholarship 2007.
George Murray Scholarship 2007.
John Crampton Travelling Scholarship 2006.
Bardavcol Scholarship in Civil and Environmental Engineering 2004-05.

How have these scholarships helped you achieve your goals?
During university, the Bardavcol Scholarship provided work experience in civil engineering construction and funding to aid my study costs. After university, a number of scholarships allowed me to achieve my goals of studying abroad to undertake a Masters and PhD in Earthquake Engineering, Engineering Seismology and Socioeconomic Loss Estimation for Natural Disasters. They provided me with the funding to study at best locations in the world in this field of study.  The General Sir John Monash Award has also allowed me to meet a diverse range of world leaders in various subjects allowing for cross-discipline brainstorming. Through this brainstorming I have been able to apply ideas from other fields into natural disaster research.

What have you been doing since graduation?
Since graduation, I worked for Santos Pty. Ltd as a Quantitative Reservoir Interpretation Geophysicist in Adelaide, Australia in 2007, before undertaking a Erasmus Mundus Masters in Earthquake Engineering and Engineering Seismology at University Joseph Fourier in Grenoble, France and also the University of Pavia, Italy. I also met my now wife, Maren, while studying in Italy!

After my Masters, in 2009, I began studying for my PhD at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Karlsruhe, Germany as a General Sir John Monash Scholar and have been working on various natural disaster socio-economic risk projects worldwide.

Career/study highlights:
I have been lucky enough to attend many world conferences in fields such as socio-economics, risk management, insurance, civil engineering, earthquake engineering, seismology and natural disasters as well as publishing many journal articles and conference papers. Studying in not only Australia but also France, Italy and Germany in various languages has also been a highlight. Another highlight has been working closely with major companies from the EU, Asia and Australia in multiple fields.

Why choose the University of Adelaide to study?
The University of Adelaide provides world-class degrees that set up the students to be able to work in any location in the world. The social aspects of the university such as the sport and themed clubs provide a great way to meet people. A great mix of local and international students makes it an excellent place to make lifelong friends not only in Australia but also the rest of the world. It is this integration of high quality study, extra-curricular activities and campus life that makes the University of Adelaide the best place to study.

What were the best parts of your degree at the University of Adelaide?
The Civil Engineering degree is a lot more diverse than many worldwide, allowing for a good combination of structural, civil, technical, economic, environmental engineering subjects. Group projects made the degree very challenging and allowed for real world experience. The Management subject in final year provided me with a great skills set to undertake project management after university.

From the Bachelor of Science in Geology and Geophysics, field trips were the best part, undertaking structural geology field mapping in the middle of Australia, or undertaking geophysical measurements over faults.

Did you take part in any extra-curricular activities?
I was heavily involved in the Adelaide University Volleyball Club (AUVC) being president from 2003-2006, in both the social and sporting sides of the club. I was lucky enough to attend and win medals at many Australian and Southern University Games from 2002-2006 in both mixed netball and volleyball. In addition to that, the usual pub crawl events and barbeques from the AUVC, the Adelaide University Engineering Society and other clubs were always fun.

What were your lecturers and tutors like?
The lecturers and tutors in my degrees were always friendly and knowledgeable. They put a lot of effort into innovative lectures and projects which always made studying interesting.

Apart from your academic qualification, how did your experience at the University of Adelaide shape you as a person?
I believe that going to the University of Adelaide led to me being a well-rounded individual. The multicultural flavour of the university as well as the diversity of people undertaking subjects meant that there were always many influences and much to learn from the people around me. This diversity and internationality has helped me adjust to life in Europe and to undertake projects with people from different cultures. The management and engineering group projects during university also allowed me to gather leadership skills which have shaped the way I go about leading projects now.

Advice to incoming students to gain the most from their time at university
Get involved in the whole university life that University of Adelaide has to offer – study hard, join a sports club, make friends from various degrees and cultures and have fun!

Any tips re finding work after graduation?

It is important to undertake work experience during your degree to build up contacts in the professional community. Apply for scholarships and prizes as these will allow you to see where your strengths and weaknesses are, as well as to get to know the scholarship panels.
Attend the international university and company trade fairs on offer from the University of Adelaide and other sources. Get involved, learn from and make friends with people in the years above you during university – these people will be your link to the professional world after university.

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