Isha Deodhar is just about to start her first year of university, but she already has big plans to combine her love for maths, science and engineering to solve the big problems facing society.

After receiving an ATAR of 99.95 from Abbotsleigh High School she was offered her first preference – the dual degree Bachelor of Advanced Science/Engineering at UNSW, which is offered for the first time this year.

For Isha, it’s just the start of a long career where she hopes to combine science and engineering to make a difference in the world.

“I draw a lot of inspiration from the founders of Cochlear in Australia, it’s a good example of scientific advancement combined with giving back to humanity and good business. The interaction of those three is where I want to work,” says Isha.

At the moment she has a clear plan for the future – after the six-year course, she hopes to work in industry for a couple of years before extending her business knowledge with an MBA. The fact that UNSW mirrors her interest in combining research and industry was a big draw card for Isha when it came to selecting a university.

“I’d been to the UNSW open days and was invited to meet the Deans of Science and Engineering at the high achievers’ reception, and I felt the kind of things they were saying and the strong links to industry really related to what I wanted to achieve from the course,” says Isha, who comes to UNSW with a Scientia Scholarship, awarded to most students with an ATAR of 99.9 and above. The scholarship is valued at $10,000 per year plus an academic mentor.

Although she worked hard to achieve her top ATAR, Isha’s real drive during year 12 wasn’t just good marks – it was also her desire to give back, something she’s always felt strongly, she admits.

“I realised receiving high quality education and having the option of further education was such a privilege – in so many parts of the world people struggle to just get a primary school education,” says Isha. “After 13 years of dedicated teachers, a loving family and supportive friends I wanted to make sure I gave my all and opened up further opportunities for me to give back to the world.” 

She’s also grateful that gender stereotypes that used to exclude some women from careers in science and engineering are now breaking down, paving the way for a new generation of entrepreneurs, inventors and problem solvers of both sexes. 

Now Isha is looking forward to starting her university life and meeting like-minded people, joining relevant societies and continuing to follow her passion – with only a few nerves about the change of pace at university.

“Science inspires me, it’s one of the most rational and logical ways to gather information about the universe, but it still has the humility to change and adjust itself as new evidence comes along,” she says. “On a greater scale, I’ve always enjoyed the process of learning – the journey towards a piece of knowledge is sometimes more powerful than the knowledge itself. I think that’s what I’m really looking forward to about university.”

Media contact: Fiona MacDonald, UNSW Media Office,  (02) 9385 1933