Growing up on a cattle farm in the North Burnett, there was never a shortage of things to keep a young Max Corfield occupied.
Be it fencing, cattle work, ploughing the field or mustering with his father – every day posed a new challenge and taught him the importance of reaping what you sow.
While his education started years before he stepped foot in a classroom, his time at Coalstoun Lakes State School and Gayndah State High School built on his knowledge and set him up for his next – yet very different – adventure; moving almost 300km from his hometown at just 14 years of age to become a boarding student at Downlands College in Toowoomba.
“It was extremely daunting, but I was so excited,” he said.
“Even though I wasn’t exactly sure what I was in for, I did know it was a great opportunity to learn new skills to hopefully one day take back to the farm.”
Despite initially being riddled with homesickness, Max quickly hit his stride and found a friend in STEM.
“I loved studying science and maths – they were so technical and really inspired me to think more deeply about how the concepts could be applied in the real world,” he said.
“Being a farm kid, I was always broadening my horizons and wanted work somewhere with lots of possibilities and opportunities to be innovative.”
What exactly that industry was remained in the air until he had a light bulb moment towards the end of Year 12 in 2021.
“I was sitting in one of my career classes we started discussing engineering and how it was essentially a passport to a world of different industries,” he said.
“I realised it was the perfect combination of what I loved and would give me the chance to be at the forefront of today’s technological world.”
With that in mind, he started researching what was on offer and quickly landed on a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical Engineering) at the University of Southern Queensland.
“I read that you would get to explore all areas of the engineering field in your first year to allow you to take charge of your own career, so I knew it was the right choice for me,” he said.
As for location, it was a case of simply staying true to his roots.
“After moving to Toowoomba, I realised it’s essentially a big country town – the people are really nice, it’s very easy to make connections and the atmosphere reminds me of home,” he said.
“The prospect of staying here was really enticing so I investigated the accommodation at the University’s Residential Colleges and got myself a spot at McGregor College.”
With a year of study now under his belt, Max is going from strength to strength and already laying the foundation for an exciting future.
“This year has given me a great taste of everything that’s out there – we’ve been investigating all of the basic engineering principles along with the skills of design and systems improvement,” he said.
“Like I used to do back in high school, I’m constantly thinking about how I can apply the concepts on the farm and in other agricultural settings.”
With his thinking cap – or cowboy hat, as the case may be – firmly on, one thing’s for sure, his love for learning will always go way beyond the classroom.
“My learning adventures started on the farm and I can’t wait to take my skills back there so I can play a small part in keeping my family’s legacy alive for generations to come,” he said.
“Regardless of whether I end up in manufacturing, the design of machinery, agricultural innovation or construction management – all of these careers will help me to make a real difference.”
Find out more about studying Engineering at the University of Southern Queensland.
Engineering student Max Corfield.