Australian National University scholars Emily Campbell (Bachelor of Engineering (Honours)/Bachelor of Arts) and Claire Honeyman (Bachelor of Engineering (Honours)/Bachelor of Commerce) have an additional reason to celebrate when they graduate this month.
Both women have completed the Grand Challenges Scholars Program (GCSP) at the Australian National University as endorsed by the US National Academy of Engineering.
The program sees the world's best engineering students tackle some of the major global challenges of the 21st Century.
Both Claire and Emily combined formal courses, research, internships and extra-curricular activities to achieve recognition for their work in addressing the greatest challenges facing engineering across sustainability, health, security and the joy of living.
Emily, who co-established ANUFifty50, a gender equity in STEM organisation, said that she will always remember the diversity of experiences offered during the program and her time at ANU.
“I have worked on sexuality education with the Embassy of El Salvador, I have completed biomedical research in the USA and I have been to Peru to work with an NGO on wind power. I couldn’t have predicted any of this at the start, but will never forget the variety of opportunities available," Emily said.
“ANU gave me the confidence, the variety of experiences and the expanded view of the world that makes me believe I could go anywhere and find a meaningful way to contribute, even if I can’t image in what way that would be.”
Claire, who attended an Engineers Without Borders Summit in Cambodia, said that this single experience inspired the direction for the rest of her degree.
“Using systems thinking and user centred design, I worked in a team of six to design and build a prototype solution aimed at reducing the community’s exposure to malaria and dengue fever via improving their water storage methods,” Claire explained.
“I learnt huge amounts from the facilitators, my peers and most importantly the local people. Being able to apply my engineering skills to address real, complex problems was not only incredibly rewarding, but also proved to me that I know more than I thought I did."
The GCSP was an incredibly enriching experience for Claire.
“Combining the program with my studies has taught me to ask questions, reflect, seek and be open to learning experiences from as many sources as possible, and effectively communicate knowledge."
“I now have the confidence to work in a field where I can have a global impact, in an area that I am unfamiliar with, and with people from a diverse range of backgrounds. The networks I have developed are invaluable for my personal and professional life, and I will miss seeing friendly, familiar faces from all corners of the campus every day.”
ANU Engineering Lecturer and GCSP Program Director Jeremy Smith said that both Emily and Claire have emerged as brilliant engineers and excellent role models.
“They have gained the skills and outlook needed to make a positive impact on people’s lives through engineering. It has been a pleasure supporting them both and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for these inspiring young scholars,” Jeremy said.
Emily and Claire join 2016 ANU graduates Cameron Nelson and Maria Foo who were the first Australians to be recognised as NAE Grand Challenges Scholars.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly reported that Emily and Claire were the first Australians to complete the program. This article has been updated: In 2017 ANU graduates Cameron Nelson and Maria Foo were the first Australians to complete the program.