After attending a STEM program for young women back at her high school in Brisbane, Dawn Dixie Leonardo realised that engineering was more than just construction, hard hats and concrete.
“It showed me that engineering was about applying different concepts and thinking outside the box to come up with solutions to complex problems. Through engineering, I get to combine my love for mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology, and I think that’s very interesting,” says Dawn.
“It also showed me that there are various types of engineering I could do, like biomedical. I would have never thought that engineering and medicine could ever be applied together! Engineering is such a versatile degree, it is dynamic and applicable to other degrees.”
Dawn, who is now doing a double degree in Engineering and Commerce, has chosen a Biomedical Systems specialisation.
“I would really like to eventually be able to make devices or aids such as implants, bionics, and prosthetics to help the injured.”
Dawn encourages women to take up engineering as she believes it would help bring diversity in thoughts and solutions.
“This would further help society’s innovations and developments. Furthermore, since engineering is in everything around us, more women should be a part of the process of helping shape the future that impacts them. To me, engineering is developing past knowledge with present resources in order to shape a future.”
Although Dawn chose ANU for its world-class reputation, this was also the reason behind her biggest worry prior to commencing.
“A fear I had was that because of its prestige, it would be difficult to make friends or even ask help from the academics. Now, I have realised that ANU is very welcoming. I have made the greatest friends here, and have had very supportive academics who guide me through.”
Dawn has also been a part of student societies such as the Engineering Students Association and ANU Fifty50. Not only have these helped her social life, but also helped develop her professional skills.
“My involvement with student societies since first year has allowed me to meet various people who have similar interests as me, and who are going through the same experiences as I am. The Fifty50 career development program, sponsored by the Department of Defence, gave me an insight on the application processes involved, and the workshops have prepared me for future assessment centres and interviews.”
Dawn’s transition from Brisbane to Canberra was a smooth one, even though she initially didn’t know anyone in Canberra.
“Canberra becomes home. You find like-minded people, you learn from every person you encounter, and it is a very enriching experience.”
In a city that has something for everyone, Dawn suggests checking out the Australian National Botanical Gardens, Enlighten, Floriade, Canberra Balloon Spectacular and Skyfire.
“Canberra is a city that will grow on you. So just relax, you will be okay and have fun and enjoy your new milestone!”