What is photovoltaics and solar energy engineering? 

In very simple terms, Photovoltaics and Solar Energy is all about how solar energy and how this energy can be harnessed to power society. The Photovoltaics & Solar Energy Engineering major at UNSW is very comprehensive – you learn everything from how to design and manufacture solar cells, to how rooftop PV systems and solar farms are designed, to how the electricity grid is operated, renewable energy policy and energy efficiency. It’s an excellent degree that allows you to explore every facet of solar energy – from how it is made, to how it is distributed, and to how it is used.

Can you tell us how you came to study photovoltaics and solar energy engineering? 

I made my decision to study Photovoltaics and Solar Energy Engineering quite late in Year 12, just before the HSC trial exams. I was always really keen on Maths and Physics and was fascinated by the “Ideas to Implementation” topic – particularly with the photoelectric effect, and how semiconductors could be used to convert energy from the sun into electricity. I thought this was really cool and wanted to learn more about this, and the physics behind it. I did some research, and as soon as I found out that UNSW offered an engineering major in Photovoltaics & Solar Energy I was sold! I read up about the major through the UNSW Course Handbook and immediately decided that I wanted to do Photovoltaics – it sounded like such a practical degree, that would allow me to have the right balance of academic challenge and real-world problem solving. 

What kind of jobs are there in the field of photovoltaics and solar energy engineering?

It’s really exciting – there are SO many different types of jobs out there, and so many more that will be out there that don’t even exist yet! A Photovoltaics and Solar Energy Engineering degree could take you anywhere – from working at a rooftop solar company designing PV systems for buildings, to designing and operating solar farms, to writing the rules of the Australian electricity market, to designing low energy buildings, to working in research and development for a solar panel manufacturer or deploying off grid PV systems to developing nations – the pathways are limitless! 

What does your role in the Sustainable Futures Team at Lendlease entail? 

My role in the Sustainable Futures Team is all about working with Lendlease’s construction, development and investment management businesses to ensure that the places Lendlease creates are sustainable. Lendlease has very ambitious sustainability targets (to reach net zero carbon emissions and absolute zero emissions by 2040) – in fact, our industry’s most aggressive targets (by far). My role is about supporting Lendlease to achieve its goals and making sure we do everything we can to achieve them. 

What advice would you give to high school girls interested in studying photovoltaics and solar energy engineering? 

If you’re looking to study a degree that will allow you to have a positive impact on the world around you, Photovoltaics and Solar Energy Engineering will equip you with all the skills you need. Climate change is really scary, and it’s a huge problem that needs to be overcome. This degree will put you on track to be at the forefront of this battle and will give you the start you need to make the world a better, more sustainable, place.

All rights reserved