Faculty of
Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology

Julia Cepon
Julia Cepon

Meet Julia

Second Year Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) Civil

What/who inspired you to choose engineering?

I didn’t choose engineering when I first graduated from high school. Although I loved maths and science, I had never built or designed anything, and didn’t think I would fit the mould. Instead, I completed a Bachelor of Medical Science and Graduate Diploma of Education. But whilst I really enjoyed both of these and feel very fortunate for the experiences they have provided me, I knew that I missed maths!

So, after a bit of soul searching, and helping my dad with renovations around the house, I realised I loved being able to work on projects where I could be hands-on, and see physical progress. And it was a friend who made the connection and said to me, ‘If you like maths and science, and you like hands-on things, you should try engineering!’

And so I decided to take the plunge! I’ve loved every minute of my course so far, and have really enjoyed being able to apply my passion for maths to real world problems, to create tangible solutions.

Why did you choose the specialisation you are studying?

When I started engineering, I didn’t know what specialisation I wanted to go into. But the flexible first year allowed me to study a range of courses from each of the engineering disciplines, and helped me choose what felt right for me.

I decided to go into civil engineering because I really enjoyed my first-year statics course. I liked being able to analyse a structure, and see how the maths and physics supported my intuition around its behaviour.

I also enjoyed my ENGG1100 project (a problem-solving based course), where we got to design a movable bridge that was powered by water. I enjoyed working with my team to come up with a practical solution to an existing problem, and liked being able to imagine our bridge in the physical landscape, and design it accordingly. This helped confirm that civil engineering was the right choice for me!

What is one thing about university or engineering that you wished you knew earlier?

I wish I knew that you could be an engineering student even if you hadn’t built or designed anything before. Designing and building are skills to be learnt, so it’s ok if you don’t already have these! If you enjoy maths and problem solving, and like thinking outside the box, then engineering could be for you!

What made you pick engineering at the University of Queensland over other universities?

I chose engineering at UQ because of the wide range of majors it offered, as well as the flexible first year. Given that I wasn’t sure what discipline I wanted to study, I felt very reassured knowing that my first year would give me exposure to a range of disciplines to help me choose my major.

Also, the beautiful campus and landscape at UQ definitely helped with my choice! One of my favourite morning rituals is to visit the turtles in the lakes – it’s definitely a great way to de-stress around exam time!

Your best tip for first-year engineering students?

Remember that it’s ok (and essential) to ask for help when you need it! University is a big change from high school, but it’s also very manageable if you ask for help as you go. Whether it’s help with understanding the content or how to structure an assignment, or knowing where to park or get good coffee – just remember to ask!

The First Year Engineering Learning Centre (FYELC) is a great place to ask for help. Lots of first-year engineering students use this as their main study area, so it’s a great place to make friends and ask your peers for help. There are also tutors from later years to help you with course-specific questions or just general uni advice!

Also, remember that your first year is all about discovery! It’s a chance to find out whether engineering is right for you, and what discipline you may be interested in. But it’s also a chance to develop your broader interests and meet new friends, by participating in the range of clubs and societies at UQ. So my biggest advice is to be open to the range of opportunities available, and listen to your gut. If you follow your passions and listen to your gut, you will land in the right spot.

Your favourite example of amazing engineering?

The first thing that comes to mind is ‘The Pole House’ on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria. This house is balanced on a single steel pole, and appears to just float out of the cliff-side. I remember driving past it as a kid and being absolutely amazed – I thought it seemed impossible, and I’d never seen anything like it.

Looking at it now, with an understanding of engineering and the forces at play, this structure still amazes me. I think it is a great example of how clever engineering can produce a unique and beautiful design, which introduces everyone, regardless of their background, to the amazing things that can be created with engineering.

Dream engineering job when you graduate?

I would love to work with a team that has sustainability at its core, and uses this to develop innovative solutions. I also have a deep passion for teaching, and definitely hope that I can use my previous teaching experience within my engineering career.

What do you hope to achieve as a WE student leader?

As a WE leader, I hope to share my experience with younger women, and show them that following your passion will land you in the right spot. I would like to be an example and show that it’s ok to not fit the mould – and that you don’t need to be deconstructing your toaster on the weekend to be an engineer! I hope that I can help young women feel supported to pursue engineering if they enjoy maths and problem solving, and trust that they can find the area that is right for them, even if they’re not quite sure where that is yet!