UNSW and the Sir William Tyree Foundation have celebrated the announcement of a $2.6m gift that will boost the number of female engineering students from Western Sydney.
With Australia’s leading universities predicting a shortage of 70,000 engineers by 2025, there is an urgent need to address this critical skills gap.
Women and young people from low-socioeconomic (low-SES) backgrounds are heavily underrepresented in engineering. The Sir William Tyree Foundation’s generous support provides UNSW with the chance to redress this imbalance by helping to remove some of the barriers that get in the way of young women from Western Sydney pursuing engineering studies.
The Tyree Women in Engineering Scholarships will address the shortage by providing generous scholarships to attract and support young women from low-SES backgrounds or disadvantaged schools in the Greater Western Sydney region to study at UNSW and emerge as qualified professionals who go on to make meaningful contributions to society.
In addition, the Tyree Global Leadership Program will enable the highest-achieving female undergraduate engineering students to take part in dedicated leadership programs, mentoring, coaching and industry engagement opportunities designed to ensure they graduate from UNSW as highly employable and qualified professionals.
This significant gift aligns with UNSW’s goal to increase the proportion of students from low-SES backgrounds and disadvantaged schools to 25 percent of all first-year enrolments over the next five years.
UNSW Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Attila Brungs said ensuring UNSW’s student community was representative of broader society would be crucial to meeting Australia’s future skills needs in engineering.
“Thanks to our shared vision and partnership with the Sir William Tyree Foundation, we have the opportunity to have a transformative impact on the future of engineering in Australia and beyond,” Professor Brungs said.
“This gift will help remove some of the barriers that stand in the way of women from Western Sydney studying engineering, and support UNSW’s commitment to an equitable, diverse and inclusive University community.”
“Together we can uncover and nurture the talent in Greater Sydney that is reflective of Sir William’s legacy and support our future engineers – bright young students, who have the tenacity to solve some of our world’s greatest challenges and make a difference for generations to come.”
The Sir William Tyree Foundation is a long-time supporter of teaching and research at UNSW. The foundation’s generous history of support includes philanthropic investments to establish the Tyree Foundation Institute of Health Engineering and provide support for UNSW’s expanding nuclear engineering program.
“Our family roots are in Western Sydney. Our first Tyree factory was there. So, we are thrilled to partner with UNSW and give talented young women the opportunity to pursue a career in engineering and follow in my father’s footsteps,” said Robyn Fennell, Sir William Tyree’s daughter and Chair of the Tyree Foundation Board.
“Scholarships are a great way of attracting diverse groups into study at university, and so I’m delighted that we can collaborate with UNSW to extend this support to even greater numbers of students and help inspire, engage and empower the next generation of women engineers,” she said.
According to fourth year UNSW mechanical and biomedical engineering student Joanne Zreika, leadership, coaching, and industry engagement opportunities are vital to raising awareness of engineering as a potential career option for girls like her from Western Sydney who are interested in STEM careers.
“Throughout my studies at UNSW, I’ve had the opportunity to be involved in experiential workshops and events and benefitted incredibly from meeting with inspiring mentors. Having witnessed the power these have had on my own growing passions towards the field, it has always been important for me to give back and provide guidance to the next generation of engineers. Through my roles as an ambassador for the Gateway program and a Women in Engineering ambassador, I have been empowered to do just that. Being involved in outreach programs has allowed me to interact with highly motivated and talented students from across the state, including Western Sydney. Visiting my own high school to connect and share my journey with students earlier this year, was an absolute highlight.
“I encourage anyone interested in this scholarship to find out more and submit an application to come and study at UNSW. This will undoubtedly open the door to a world of opportunities and be the first stepping stone in carving out an exciting career in engineering.”
An event to mark the significant gift was recently held in the Tyree Building at UNSW, a state-of-the art facility that is home to groundbreaking energy research and which was built thanks in part to considerable contributions from Sir William Tyree himself.
Before his death in 2013, at the age of 92, Sir William said: “I want to try and improve the education of the people coming on to replace us old blokes because unless that happens, Australia will simply not achieve what it should.”
The latest gift from the Tyree Foundation carries on that mission, ensuring even more young female engineers have the opportunity to study at UNSW into the future.