New wave of engineering students look to Griffith

The effect of a government push to boost numbers of females graduating with STEM-related degrees is evident at Griffith's School of Engineering.
The effect of a government push to boost numbers of females graduating with STEM-related degrees is evident at Griffith's School of Engineering.

For soon-to-be Griffith engineering student, Kiarna Broomhead, the decision was easy.

On receiving an early offer to study at Griffith School of Engineering, the 17-year-old instantly called her dad who reminded her it was exactly the result for which she had hoped. She accepted in an instant and immediately breathed a sigh of relief and looked to the future.

The decision was made all the easier by older sisters, Anita and Jessie, who had already forged a family path to Griffith to study digital media and accounting and finance respectively. Kiarna is now forging her own pathway.

Throughout Year 12 and for much of Year 11 she had considered and reconsidered her options, with science-based and mathematics-based degrees attracting her attention. Ultimately, a career in biomedical engineering called, prompting her to choose a Bachelor of Engineeringat Griffith as her first step.

Innovation calling

“I didn’t necessarily want to become a doctor or a surgeon but I very much liked the idea of helping doctors and members of the medical profession to help people,” she said. “I hope to do this by creating machines and technology that help doctors do what they do.

“I love the idea of innovation making a difference in this way.”

Kiarna, who will start her first trimester on the Gold Coast campus in February, is among a wave of bright incoming students to have chosen engineering at Griffith in 2017.

In making her choice to study engineering, Kiarna also took on board the state-wide campaign behind STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and the government push to boost the numbers of females graduating with STEM-related degrees.

“I like the idea of being in an industry where I can push myself or where I may have to push hard because I know I’m always going to push myself. That’s the type of person I am,” Kiarna, who completed Year 12 at Browns Plains State High School, said.

She has set what she sees as a realistic goal of securing stable employment on completion of her four-year degree, after choosing a course where she expects job opportunities to grow steadily.

Learning how things work

Another female student about to start a degree in engineering is Helina Engida who grew up in Brisbane after her family moved from Ethiopia. While completing Year 12 at Mount Gravatt State High School, the 17-year-old opted for engineering after discussions with her parents and becoming familiar with civil engineering and electronic engineering through family friends.

“I enjoyed maths at school and I like construction and learning about how things work,” Helina, whose first trimester will be at the Nathan campus, said.

The Queensland Government has reported that girls are among the under-represented groups who study or participate in STEM.

The Department of Education also highlighted the importance of STEM-related skills at a time when an estimated 75% of the fastest growing occupations rely on this sector. There is also a renewed emphasis on the role of STEM in professional development. A recent push has placed the spotlight on design-based learning where students can draw on engineering to develop higher levels of understanding.