Meet second year Bachelor of Engineering Research and Development (R&D) / Bachelor of Business Administration student Sarah Callinan.
Sarah grew up in Yeppoon, Central Queensland, a coastal town with a population of just over 18,500.
In her final year of school, Sarah applied for, and was successful in being awarded the Tuckwell Scholarship, a competitive scholarship awarded to elite school leavers wishing to pursue a full-time single or double undergraduate program at ANU.
“The scholarship has been amazing” said Sarah, giving her the opportunity to study at Australia’s leading university as well as providing financial support and mentoring throughout her degree.
Sarah’s interest in engineering began when she was a child – she loved making structures and inventions in the back yard, so engineering seemed like a natural fit.
“I thought the Engineering R&D program looked very interesting due to the opportunity to conduct research as early as second year. I was also attracted to the degree by its ‘multidisciplinary systems’ approach, which means that you study different disciplines of engineering and the ways they work together in complex systems. This knowledge is very important in all engineering careers, and especially in management roles.”
Making the move from Queensland to the ACT to study at ANU has been easy thanks to the support she has received.
“I found the transition from Queensland to Canberra very easy due to the support I have at College – I live in Burgmann College. A big part of my transition, though, was swapping my Queensland clothes for puffy jackets, coats and jumpers!
“When I’m around campus, I always see someone that I know, my professors and tutors like to get to know their students, and my time is definitely filled with more than just study.
“ANU really cares about its students and offers not only support, but opportunities to be involved in exciting programs and societies, volunteer, study internationally and get work experience.
“ANU is unique as it is smaller than other top institutions, and you have access to great places in Canberra such as the National Library and CSIRO. There is also a big focus on both industry and research. Now that I am here studying at ANU, I couldn’t be happier with my decision!”
When Sarah arrived at ANU she signed up for the Fifty50 mentoring program. Fitfy50 is a student-led gender equity initiative determined to see more girls studying in STEM. The mentoring program paired her with a like-minded third year engineering student to provide guidance and support through her first year.
“My mentor helped me to adjust to university and provided me with advice. I’ve now become involved with Fifty50 Committee, which is allowing me to give back, make change and meet awesome people.”
Sarah says her most valuable experience so far was having the opportunity to attend the Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Design Summit in Cambodia in January 2017. The summit saw her travel to Cambodia to work with a community to implement sustainable engineering projects that improve quality of life.
“I spent four days living in a village of about 300 people on the island Koh Chraeng on the Mekong River. A lot of our time was spent in discussions, facilitated by translators, with various groups including community leaders, women, elders, farmers, and teachers.
“It was truly transformational and has helped me find direction in my studies. My experience overseas motivated me to volunteer and get involved with the EWB ACT Chapter as an executive member.”
Drawing on her Cambodian experience, Sarah is currently using the R&D program to collaboratively work on a way to improve the physical learning environment for primary school students in rural Cambodia.
“As an R&D student, I will be able to continue to explore my passion for humanitarian engineering throughout my degree.”
Sarah has some valuable advice for anyone who is thinking of studying at ANU.
“The Bachelor of Engineering (R&D) at ANU is perfect for someone who wants to innovate, explore their passions and make change. In your first year you can build a remote-controlled car from scratch, think of ways to solve an issue in a developing community, build a crash helmet, construct a bridge, and more. In your second year, you take on a research project in an area of your choice supervised by an accomplished academic.
“One of the most important things I learnt in my first year of university is that things are not set in stone; you can change your degree, or your major, or drop courses if you need to. The people at ANU are truly there to help you through the craziness that is university. And if you come here with a dream (or find one along the way), and work hard to achieve it, you will always be supported.”