You grew up in Wagga Wagga in regional New South Wales, what sparked your interest in engineering?

Growing up my family was always renovating our house, so I lived around a fair bit of construction throughout my life. Throughout this constant change in the environment around me, I developed a keen interest in how things are built and how they work. I also loved the idea of creating and inventing things and was always cutting and gluing bits and pieces of things together. Throughout school, I loved and excelled at maths and science subjects which developed my skills in more analytical thinking. When I was approaching the end of high school, I discovered engineering and found that it was the perfect mix of both creative and analytical thinking.

You're almost finished your double degree in mechanical and biomedical engineering, what have you enjoyed most about your studies, and can you explain what a double degree is?

Studying for a dual degree in mechanical and biomedical engineering has been an amazing experience. What I’ve enjoyed the most is the chance to tailor my degree by selecting subjects closely aligned to my interests which leaned more towards biocompatibility and tissue engineering rather than electronic or software components. The subjects I chose not only held my interest but allowed me to gain exposure to specific types of biomedical engineering which has helped guide what I may like to do in the future career-wise.

Throughout my degree, I have also loved being able to make friends and form connections with people who share my interests. I noticed when I started doing my specialised elective subjects that the cohort was smaller, and I was running into the same people in my classes. This made it a lot easier to form teams for group projects and make friends which made studying and getting through the more difficult parts of uni (i.e., exam season) much more bearable.

In terms of a double degree, they are a great opportunity to ensure that none of your interests are left behind. As someone who couldn’t decide between engineering and medicine, biomedical engineering allowed me to have the best of both worlds.

Double degrees allow you to study multiple areas of interest in less time than two separate degrees would take. They allow you to configure your timetable and range of classes in unique ways to suit your lifestyle in a particular term. That is, you can choose to focus on one side of your degree for a bit before switching it up or opt to take a balance of classes to keep you engaged. Double degrees also don’t mean double the workload. You still take the same number of subjects per term. Although it sounds overwhelming, the workload is the same as a single degree it’s just undertaken over a longer period.

As the recipient of a rural engineering scholarship, how did you learn about it and how has it helped you?

I first learnt about the UNSW scholarship program through their website. It was super useful with information about all the different scholarships as well as their selection criteria. I applied for as many scholarships as I qualified for and was lucky enough to receive the Graham Painton Rural Engineering Scholarship. The scholarship has allowed me to fully embrace the university experience including things like being able to live on campus when I first moved to Sydney and being involved in extracurricular activities such as playing rugby in the UNSW team. Most importantly, the scholarship has allowed me to have all of these amazing opportunities while still providing me the time to spend on my uni courses and to focus on my academics. I’m also lucky enough to have a scholarship that is funded by a foundation, so having the opportunity to meet the people behind my scholarship and share the tangible impact it has had on my life has been very rewarding over the years.

You've been involved in some exciting work in the Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) program. Could you tell us more about it?

This year I’ve had the amazing opportunity to be a part of the Mending Broken Hearts VIP team which is competing as part of the international ISMCS Heart Hackathon competition to design and build the next generation of total artificial hearts. The project involves designing and building every aspect of the mechanical heart. This means that the CAD and 3D printing of the outer casing, all the way through to the motor and impeller designs are prepared entirely by a diverse team of uni students.

The project has been the perfect mix of theory and applying my design experience to a practical application. As part of the project there are very few design constraints, so working as part of a group to not only define the problem but to come up with a solution, is a great insight into the design and manufacturing process used in industry. The design process is very iterative so there’s always an opportunity to improve, add or fine-tune details to create a better prototype. The multidisciplinary nature of the project is also a great chance to work with students not only from across the different engineering schools but also students from other degrees such as science and medicine.

At UNSW, Vertically Integrated Projects (VIPs) fit seamlessly within your degree to allow you to gain experience in real-world engineering projects. VIPs are run in conjunction with traditional coursework and allow you to gain units of credit for participating in hands-on, practical engineering projects. Mending Broken Hearts runs as a student-led project which means that we students are responsible for every aspect of the project from the design and manufacture of the prototype to obtaining sponsors and promoting our team.

As a UNSW Women in Engineering student ambassador, what do you love most about the role?

It wasn’t until I was in my later years at high school that I even discovered engineering as a career and thought it might be something I’d be interested in. As a Women in Engineering student ambassador, I love having the opportunity to inspire other girls to pursue careers in STEM. Also, having spent a significant amount of time in both high school and at university in classes that were predominantly male, it’s truly refreshing to connect with women who share the same interests and aspirations. The role also allows me to bridge that gap and create a supportive environment for women on campus. Being able to promote engineering to high school students is a unique chance to contribute to the future of the field. By sharing my journey and experiences, I hope to encourage young women to explore the world of engineering and see the incredible impact they can make.


What opportunities are there for biomedical/mechanical engineers, and what would be your ideal job?

I distinctly remember starting my first few days at university and our lecturers were telling us that the jobs we will have when we graduate in 5 years don’t exist yet. It was scary to hear that the future was so uncertain, but also super exciting to hear how fast the industry is growing and how many opportunities will be available.

Overall, engineering has an almost endless number of opportunities with the problem-solving and interpersonal skills taught within the degree being highly sought after.

Within biomedical engineering, there are three main sectors.

  • Medical Devices – for example, orthopaedic implants (e.g., hip replacements), neuromodulators, pacemakers, prosthetics
  • Medical Equipment – for example, pulse oximeters, hospital beds, dialysis machines,
  • Tissue Engineering – for example, growing cell scaffolds, regenerating tissue using growth factors, developing artificial tissues

My ideal career would be something in the medical device field as I’m currently focussed on implants or prosthetics. I’d love to work in research and development as I love the design process and working practically to solve a problem. I’m also very interested in patient-specific medical devices that are tailored to a specific anatomy or condition, so to be involved in that field moving forward would be exciting.


For more information about studying mechanical and biomedical engineering at UNSW Sydney, visit the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering and the Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering.