KUMUL Petroleum engineer Stephanie Manoi left for Australia early this year to pursue a 21-month Master’s degree programme in petroleum engineering under an Australian government scholarship.
Soon after the semester began, the Covid-19 pandemic struck. But it has not deterred her from her studies. She sees it rather as a learning experience.
“In terms of studies, it has been full on since day one. Some of the courses are short, intensive programmes. So it really pushed me to change my study and work habits.”
The 27-year-old’s parents are from Manus and New Ireland. When she told her family and friends that she was going away for studies, they were elated.
“It was also encouraging for my younger siblings who are still at school.”
She has been employed by Kumul Petroleum for three years – the first two years as a graduate engineer under the company’s graduate development programme. After the programme, she joined the company on a full-time contract as a petroleum engineer. In Australia, studying from home has its challenges because of the Covid-19 restrictions.
“Most of the teaching/learning delivery and assessments had to be revised. It meant a lot more assignments, research and reading.”
“ I’m sure I will come back to PNG as a more competent and confident engineer.”
But she is happy with what she is doing and hopes to get the most out of the experience.
For the first 18 months, she will be pursuing the master’s degree in petroleum engineering at the University of Adelaide. Following that, she will be undertaking a three-month internship with Santos, a leading independent oil and gas producer in the Asia-Pacific region.
“My employer Kumul Petroleum nominated me for the scholarship. The Australia (government) awards and Santos cover travel arrangements, tuition fees and living allowances. Kumul Petroleum provides financial support during my studies in Australia.”
Eddie Guru, her supervisor at Kumul Petroleum, praises her transition from the graduate programme trainee/engineer to a master’s programme.
“Stephanie is a fast learner and I had to fast-track her training and development plan to a junior engineer level. Because her original qualification is mining engineering, she has had to work doubly hard to grasp the fundamentals of petroleum engineering. And she has done that successfully.”
Stephanie is excited about returning to student life.
“I expected that returning to the classroom environment will be totally different and challenging. But it’s a great opportunity to study along engineers from different backgrounds. Some may have years of experience in the industry. So it will give me good exposure to the industry outside PNG.
“It will also be interesting to experience life in a multicultural society. There will be people from different cultures and backgrounds. Learning to live and interact with them will be an important part of living in Australia.
“My only other trips overseas have been work-related so far – attending meetings, conferences and training in Singapore, Japan and Australia. The longest duration was about a week of software training in Japan. This experience will be completely different.”
She thanks Australia and Santos for making her study possible. She also thanks her employer for prioritising training and development for its employees.
“I’m sure I will come back to PNG a more competent and confident engineer. In the short term, sending myself and other engineers overseas to learn boosts Kumul Petroleum’s technical capacity. In the long-term, it increases the capability of PNG nationals to take up senior roles in industries and pave the way to developing PNG for Papua New Guineans.”