9 December 2008

Lord Mayor Campbell Newman will return to university life tomorrow (Wednesday, December 10), as guest speaker at UQ’s Engineering, Physical Sciences and Architecture (EPSA) morning graduation ceremony.

The UQ alumnus completed a Master of Business Administration (Financial Management) in 1992, and will venture back to the University to talk about his vision for Brisbane and his plans to create a successful and thriving future for the city.

One person who will be listening with attentive ears, at the 11am ceremony, is mining engineering graduate Damien Wichlacz.

Some would say Mr Wichlacz has his career paved with “black” gold, but his journey to a graduate position at BHP Billiton Illawarra Coal has seen him travel the dusty tracks from the bush to the city and now interstate.

Mr Wichlacz started his schooling at his family property about 50km from Mitchell, in western Queensland – about a seven-hour drive from the bright lights of Brisbane.

From year one to year seven, he completed School of Distance Education through Charleville, with his only classmate his brother – a radio link connected the two boys to 15 other pupils scattered across western Queensland.

Mr Wichlacz’s mother juggled family life with the role of mentor, assisted through a daily half-hour radio cross to a teacher at Charleville.

“If dad needed a hand on the property we would start early and finish early… as long as you got your work done,” he said.

In high school, Mr Wichlacz, his brother and mother relocated to Roma so the two boys could attend St John’s School, while his father manned the family property during the week.

Upon graduating, the former school captain joined his brother in Toowong, where he completed a Bachelor of Engineering at UQ, majoring in mining engineering.

“I like the best of both worlds, I’ve grown to like the city as well,” he said.

“It was a bit different moving to the city, a major struggle was driving in the traffic, there’s no traffic lights in Roma.”

Mr Wichlacz’s studies were assisted through a Sir James Foots Undergraduate Scholarship - up to three scholarships are awarded to UQ students studying Mining Engineering or Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering each year.

All EPSA graduations will be held at the UQ Centre, with programs from the Schools of Engineering and Physical Sciences to graduate at the 11am ceremony, while all EPSA programs from the Schools of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering (St Lucia Campus); and Geography, Planning and Architecture, will graduate at the 2pm ceremony.

Katie Quinn will give the valedictorian address at the morning graduation, while valedictorian Donald Cook will speak in the afternoon.

Noted architects Graham Bligh, John Simpson and Michael Bryce, husband of Australia’s Governor-General Her Excellency Dr Quentin Bryce, AC, and co-creator of such memorable logos as the Sydney 2000 Olympics “squiggle,” and the Wallabies icon, will receive honorary doctorates from The University of Queensland at the 2pm ceremony. Mr Bryce is guest speaker at the ceremony.

School of Education students, from the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (SBS), will graduate in the evening (6pm), with guest speaker Milpera State High School Principal Adele Rice, and valedictorian Louise Garrioch.

Other interesting points include:

• The first students from UQ’s Master of Engineering (Power Generation), as well as the Mining Education Australia (MEA) initiative will graduate at the 11am ceremony.

The University of Queensland has teamed up with the State's three government-owned power generators – Stanwell, CS Energy and Tarong Energy – and Queensland University of Technology and Central Queensland University to develop and deliver the world-class Power Generation programs, which address the skills and training needs of the power sector.

• All UQ’s maths honours students will graduate with first-class honours at the 11am ceremony.

• The first Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering students to benefit from UQ’s involvement in the Metallurgical Education Partnership, will graduate at 11am. The partnership, which includes the Minerals Tertiary Education Council of Australia (MTEC), UQ, Curtin University of Technology and Murdoch University, has final year Metallurgical Engineering students from around Australia working together to design minerals processing plants.

Media: Eliza Plant at UQ Communications (07 3365 2619)

UQ is making its graduation ceremonies available online with live streaming for the first time.
The service is being offered to allow friends and family of graduating students who cannot attend the ceremonies an opportunity to view the proceedings live from any internet connected computer around the world.
Go to the following link and when prompted type in the word guest in the user name field and click OK. There is no need to enter a password. Once you have entered the site, click on the eye icon in the top right-hand corner and you will be asked to select your streaming settings., following which the video stream will be played live.
For a full list of graduation ceremonies and times please visit http://www.uq.edu.au/graduations/