GAF Story

Ella Mulquiney

Swinburne University
Bachelor of Engineering (Honours)

Ella Mulquiney, Swinburne University scholar

Ella shares how a career in Biomedical Engineering will allow her to pursue her interests in healthcare, engineering and technology.

How did you feel when you were awarded a George Alexander Foundation scholarship?

I was honoured to be considered for the George Alexander Foundation scholarship and continue to be extremely grateful for the support provided to me by the foundation.

You are starting your second year at Swinburne University; what has The George Alexander Foundation scholarship made possible during your studies?

The George Alexander Foundation scholarship has allowed me to focus on my studies without having the added pressure to have part-time employment during the academic year. It has also provided me with the opportunity to volunteer in the community which has given me a greater perspective of the broader community in which I live and a sense of accomplishment from assisting others.

What was your experience studying science and maths in school? What motivated you to study engineering at university?

Throughout my schooling, I seemed to relate better to subjects in the science and maths fields. Prior learning in these fields has assisted me in my first year of studying engineering.  My career aspirations have always been in the health field and for most of my schooling, I was interested in becoming a radiographer.  After becoming aware of Biomedical Engineering, I soon realised that I wanted to be able to help people through the development and modification of medical technology and instruments. Healthcare and the human body always fascinated me, and technology has been of particular interest. Biomedical Engineering provides me with the opportunity to combine these.  A career in Biomedical Engineering will allow me to achieve the balance between my interest in healthcare, engineering and technology.  I am inspired by advances in Biomedical Engineering as an evolving science which continues to make a difference in peoples’ lives.

You are specialising in Biomedical Engineering, what does this involve and where are you hoping your course will take you? 

Biomedical Engineering involves applying engineering principles to the medical field.  It is quite a broad area that offers many diverse specialisations.  I am not yet sure what field this will take me, no doubt my course will provide exposure to a broad range of areas and employment opportunities.

My decision to study Biomedical Engineering was further enhanced when I developed an EMG-controlled robotic claw and heart rate monitor as a project in Digital and Data Systems, a subject that I took last year. We were required to use MATLAB and a kit of meccano to build a claw that was attached to the user's forearm and would act the same way as a hand when the person tensed and relaxed their arm muscles. The heart rate monitor was created using a code that transformed a graph of a person’s heart rate into a number of beats per minute (BPM) that was reassessed every few seconds.

Why do you think it’s important that more women enter engineering? Do you look up to any women engineers as role models?

Engineering is a male dominated field and the diversity that women bring will benefit the growth and development of engineering into the future.  I personally believe that having more women in the Engineering field will allow for a female perspective.  In my first year of studying engineering, I have not met many women in the engineering field. Commencing my second year of university and majoring in Biomedical Engineering, I hope to have the opportunity to engage with women who can inspire and assist me to develop the engineering skills that I will require for my future career.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

Completing my degree will see me employed in the biomedical engineering field. A 12-month professional placement forms part of my degree, this exposure will have given me an insight into the career of a Biomedical Engineer.  Travel will form part of my life, I may even combine this with my career choice. 

Do you do any community/volunteer work? Why is this important to you?

Last year, I began volunteering at a Study Centre in Hawthorn as a mentor in a leadership capacity for young girls as they participated in a wide range of character-building activities.  I am continuing to volunteer with this organisation this year as I found it rewarding and enjoyable.  I have also volunteered through university which has allowed me to meet others studying different fields.  The volunteer work I have undertaken has allowed me to develop my leadership skills, given me the awareness of helping other people and the understanding of what it means to make a difference in the community.  

If you could travel anywhere in time, past or present, where would it be?

Travelling into the future would be really fascinating and to see how the world has developed and the impact that technology has had and how people’s lives had been changed.  It would be amazing to see something that can only be imagined now become a reality in the future.