My name is Jacob Hyland, I’m an Anaiwan man from Uralla in New South Wales.  In grade ten my physics teacher sent me to the Indigenous Australian Engineering Summer School.  Since then everything’s changed.  I studied civil engineering and while it was a real challenge, now with my degree behind me, I’m a graduate at a global engineering firm in Sydney.

It’s a long way from Uralla.

As a qualified civil engineer I get to work on amazing projects – like this.  You too can think your way and secure your future through higher education.


Jacob's Story


My name’s Jacob Hyland and I’m an Anaiwan man from Uralla in New South Wales. I’m currently a graduate civil engineer.  My passion for civil engineering came from a school teacher actually, when he came up to me with an application for the Indigenous Australian Engineering Summer School.  He encouraged me to go to it because I was good at my maths and my physics and I’ve never looked back since. It was the best week of my life.

I’d never actually thought of doing higher education.  I’d always thought that I’d become a boilermaker or a mechanic, which are two things that I do enjoy doing in my spare time.  But attending the summer school I saw that it was actually possible and it’s not that hard.  You just have to apply yourself and do your best and that’s what I’ve done and now I’m a fully qualified civil engineer and I think that’s pretty cool.

The big challenges that I had going to university was not having the financials and being away from my family.  My family’s a big part of who I am and I didn’t want to burden them with the cost of university.  NuraGili at the University of New South Wales was the Indigenous Support Unit* and when I was applying for university they were there to support me through.  I applied for an additional entrance into UNSW, which meant that I had to have an interview with the Dean, to make sure that I was actually ready to go to university if I didn’t get my OP.  Luckily I did, so I didn’t have to finish this application, but they were always there making sure that I had every opportunity possible to get to where I wanted to be.

I had a lot more support than I was thinking that I would have.  I got my first scholarship to go to university which allowed me to attend university without working, which was a big help, I could focus on my university life.  To my surprise, there were hundreds of different scholarships out there.  I applied for probably fifteen different scholarships.  It was an easy application, I did one application, it went through and I copied and pasted it in every other one.

I’m not going to lie university wasn’t as easy as everyone says it is.  You do have to work hard. I remember attending my first lecture and it was two thousand people in the one lecture hall and I was a bit freaked out at first but after meeting a few different people I could see that everyone was psyched to be there.  We had small tutorials where we were able to talk through our problems that we were having in these lectures and soon after our lectures started to get smaller and smaller.  So we had specialised subjects that were for our degrees and civil engineering, I got to attend a lot of management courses and transport courses.

So I gained a job with WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff as a graduate engineer, which means that I’m able to get experience off other people within the business and get mentored through what I’m actually doing and what stages I’m at. So being on different projects allows me to go and design something and bring it up to a senior and ask “Is this alright?”, “Have I done anything wrong”, and how to improve.

Within my job I’m able to move around to different sections as well, which makes me a more well rounded engineer and it’s going to improve my career prospects.

I think it’s important for more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to pursue higher education because we need more role models out there.  Having someone to look up to means that you’re like, I can do that!  I see higher education as something that’s there for us for the taking, rather than something that’s there that you don’t want to look at. So grab it, take a hold of it and get involved.

*Note: each university may refer to their local Indigenous support services in different ways e.g. Indigenous Education Units; Indigenous Support Units; School of Indigenous Australian Studies; Indigenous Institute etc., and may include Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander language in the naming title, as relevant to the local area. 

Jacob's Interview

Jacob See more of Jacob

Location: Sydney

Occupation: Civil Engineer

Jacob started out thinking he would be a boilermaker or mechanic but his pathway in life changed when a teacher suggested he go along to an Australian Indigenous Engineering Summer School. Jacob found his true passion and with the support of his parents pursued a career in civil engineering.  These days he’s a graduate civil engineer with a global engineering firm based in Sydney.  While he’s still a Uralla boy at heart, Jacob’s very much at home in his new career and feels proud to be a role model to other Indigenous students thinking about and undertaking higher education.