Amplifying a career in engineering at RMIT

Engineer Renan Hafsar from Indonesia shares how RMIT University’s Master of Engineering introduced him to global transportation practices and industry experts that amplified his career.

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Renan Hafsar, originally from Indonesia, graduated in 2017 with a Master of Engineering from RMIT University. 

Having worked at Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) since 2011, Renan’s study at RMIT further opened his mind to global, real-world transportation practices and introduced him to experts and professionals in the engineering industry. 

He has since returned to KNKT as the Senior Marine Safety Investigator, where he works under the President of the Republic of Indonesia and is responsible for the investigation of safety deficiencies in maritime transportation.

We caught up with Renan to find out how his experience as an international student at RMIT University amplified his skills in the transportation industry.  

What attracted you to study engineering at RMIT?

Back in 2015, when I was looking to which university I wanted to pursue for my master’s, RMIT’s engineering courses caught my eye because of how involved they are with the industry. Not just academically, but also how outstanding and practical their courses are. 

This was proven to be true. I remember attending one lecture where the speakers were professionals and experts from the transportation industry. I enjoyed that. In fact, many of my teachers had an abundance of experience working in the industry.

Why did you choose to study in Melbourne, Australia?

Australia has always been my pick, it’s closer to Indonesia compared to other countries. 

I like Melbourne, it’s not too crowded, but it’s not quiet either. I went to Canberra once and everything closes after 5 PM, it’s like a cemetery! I have been to Sydney as well and it reminds me of Jakarta, people are just everywhere all the time, so crowded. Melbourne has the perfect balance. 

Melbourne also has a diverse mix of people living in it as well – many people from all over the world. I was introduced to a lot of rich cultures and backgrounds. It’s really one of the most liveable cities in the world. 

How has your RMIT postgraduate degree prepared or furthered your career in engineering?

I feel like I developed a lot of important skills during my course. I learned how to create high-quality academic writing and how to do referencing.

In engineering, final reports are important and this course enhanced the quality of my report writing. I even ended up teaching some of my skills to my peers! 

Additionally, this course also further helped me on how to communicate with foreigners, which was a big part of what I ended up doing after graduation. 

What would be your top advice for international students deciding to pursue a career in engineering?

Engineering is a beautiful world, and it’s constantly changing. As engineers, we are builders. We can have video calls every day because of engineers, we can travel by cars and trains because of engineers. Engineers now need to be more agile, and we need to think of the future to create something new. 

Take, for example, online food deliveries or online grocery shopping. Both came from something that didn’t exist in the past. Engineers need to think outside of the box, to understand the changing landscape and understand the market to create products that cater to them.

Think about five, ten or twenty years ahead. Open your mind about the change that will happen. An innovative and agile thinking framework should be the base in creating a solution to any issues.

What are the best things about a career in engineering?

The constant advancement. Engineers used to tinker with oil and gas – two really big things that were ruling the world before technological advancement.

Now we work with technology: space shuttles, electric cars, mobile phones and face recognition. As engineers, we have always worked with global, valuable things. 

What were the best things about studying at RMIT in Melbourne?

I studied in the City campus and it’s close to everything, you name it: the beach, the airport, and access to a lot of food. It’s located in the centre. 

I found it cool as well that RMIT is across the city. Back in Indonesia, all my classes were only in one building, and it gets dense.

But at RMIT, it’s more scattered. Sometimes I would have one class in Building 80 and sometimes building 56 or building 11. It’s like a fun maze and it’s refreshing.

Additionally, I come to the city by bicycle, and I love RMIT’s Bike Hub. There are two locations: the basement of building 80 and the ground of building 51.

What was your experience of the teachers and learning methods at RMIT?

They were awesome. Back in Indonesia, learning was messier – every teacher had a different system, one used a thumb drive, one used email, and some preferred calls. At RMIT, everyone used Blackboard LMS, which made the learning process much easier.

My teachers also always implemented current real-world issues and developments in our studies. I remember learning about sensor systems on freeways and I realised that the freeway here was developing a sensor system. The teachers always made sure we were all aware of what was happening around us. 

What have been the highlights of your learning experience at RMIT?

I remember doing a cool project once where my group had to visit a train station and collect a lot of data. We had to count how many cars went to the left, how many went to the right, and how many people crossed the intersection next to the train station. Then, we had to analyse the data and present it to the Australian Government! 

All of us in the group benefited from the experience as we were essentially supporting the Government by giving useful information and helping influence decisions.

What skills do you learn from studying abroad at RMIT that gave you an advantage over others in your industry?

Many cities are unique in terms of transportation. Some cities have trams like Melbourne, some can only be accessed by planes, some cities want something more sustainable for the environment. In RMIT, you will study all of it, which was beneficial because I implemented that knowledge when I went back to Indonesia. 

I also know that RMIT teaches social engineering, something that not many universities touch on. It's not always necessarily about making everything faster and more efficient, we need to humanise our projects as well and see how it’s impacting the people around us.

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Acknowledgement of country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.

aboriginal flag
torres strait flag

Acknowledgement of country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business.