WestConnex, light rail, the Bays precinct, Green Square, Badgerys Creek, a population that is expected to push past 5.5 million over the next decade, and a city that is rapidly building infrastructure to keep up with it.
Sydney, by most measures, is going through a planning boom, and students are taking notice.
This year the demand for UNSW's Bachelor of City Planning surged by 115 per cent, while Western Sydney University and Macquarie have also seen demand strengthen for their planning degrees, according to university offers data.
"Affordable housing, access to jobs, equity of services, these are the fundamental questions," said Simon Pinnegar, the director of the built environment program at UNSW.
Joining the discipline: UNSW student Gemma Eagle wants to help plan a growing Sydney. Photo: Daniel Munoz
"And the very wicked challenges we now face as a society."
Dr Pinnegar believes it's these obstacles and the employment opportunities they provide that high school graduate are gravitating to, as they look at projects like the $16.8 billion WestConnex that simultaneously connect and divide the city.
"Cities are incredibly complex and challenging beasts," he said. "There is no blueprint for the role of a planner but to be constantly aware and seeking to manage the process in the fairest way."
While they were once commonly found bound to a local council desk, city planners are increasingly branching out into the private sector where long term visions are becoming more valuable, according to Dr Pinnegar.
Stills from the WestConnex imagery showing the St Peters interchange. Photo: WestConnex Delivery Authority.
A spokeswoman for Macquarie University said demand was likely to be increasing due to the career opportunities available to graduates.
The 21st century transformation of the public library, planning for LGBTIQ communities in outer suburban Sydney and managing projected population decline in far western NSW are just some of the theses that students submitted last year.
Workers on George Street after traffic was stopped for the last time as the light rail construction begins. Photo: Dallas Kilponen
Joining the discipline this year is 19-year-old Gemma Eagle.
Hailing from a family of urban planners, the Bronte resident chose to follow the career path after her aunty helped rebuild Christchurch in the wake of 2011's devastating earthquake that killed 185 people.
The future of the Badgerys Creek rail line has yet to be decided. Photo: Rob Homer
She said she was interested in fostering the development of urban hubs in the outer western suburbs and south-west of Sydney, where land for up to 35,000 new homes south of Campbelltown has been released by the NSW government and up to 100,000 people are expected to live.
"It's all about spatial exclusion," she said. "The city is obviously growing and so is the spread for some people to get into the city. It makes it hard for people to things being centred in one hub."
Transport connections are key, believes south-west Sydney resident and aspirant transport engineer Brittney Monk, one of a record number of women [25 per cent] receiving offers to study engineering at UNSW in 2017.
"My backyard is literally going to be next to the new [Badgery's Creek] airport," the 18-year-old said.
The debate around the airport's transport connections is not lost on the Curran Park teenager.
Under the government's current plans there is no provision for a rail line to the airport when it opens in 2025, but the door has been left open to extend the South West Rail Link or, alternatively, and at much greater expense, to build a dedicated express service from the CBD.
If the rail line ever does come to fruition, Ms Monk hopes to be there, drawing up the plans.
"That's definitely something that I would like to work on," she said.
This article was originally published on smh.com.au