But after 25 years on the tools, Richard has decided to hang up his hard hat and hit the books in pursuit of his lifelong dream of becoming an engineer.
“I didn’t have much interest in school or getting good grades, and as a result, university was never an option for me,” Richard said.
“I have another 20 or so working-years ahead of me, and I want to make the most of them by doing something I love.”
Determined to set an example for his three children, Richard enrolled in the University of Southern Queensland’s (USQ) Tertiary Preparation Program (TPP) – the first move towards fulfilling his engineering dream.
As its name suggests, TPP is designed for people like Richard, who either have not completed Year 12 or completed it many years ago, as a bridging course into university.
Unlike other pathway programs, USQ’s TPP is free and available to everyone (as long as you are at least 18 in the year you begin your studies and meet the citizenship and residency requirements).
“After completing TPP, I could enrol in a Bachelor of Engineering degree,” Richard said.
"I’m now in my third semester at USQ and I love it; I’m literally living the dream.”
TPP lecturer Associate Professor Marcus Harmes said the program goes beyond the classroom.
"Apart from being a reliable and proven entry pathway into university, TPP allows students to adjust to the new experiences and challenges of tertiary study before committing to a degree,” Associate Professor Harmes said.
“Students develop writing, computing and general study skills, but more importantly, TPP builds confidence for further studies.
“We have people enrolled from all different walks of life; some have come from war-torn countries, others from disadvantaged backgrounds.
“TPP is about giving everyone – no matter their situation – a helping hand on the journey to university study.”
Tom Yang, who is just beginning his TPP studies, said TPP was an excellent way to make friends.
“I’m enjoying the program because it’s helped me to meet new people, learn more about the online learning environment, and it’s giving me the skills and confidence to succeed at university,” Tom said.
Once students successfully complete TPP, USQ will help them apply directly to an undergraduate degree.
From earthmover to engineer, 49-year-old Richard Honan is turning his dreams into reality after completing USQ’s Tertiary Preparation Program.