Faculty of
Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology

Kathleen Cox
Kathleen Cox
Meet Kathleen Cox

What do you study?

Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) Chemical Engineering

What/who inspired you to choose engineering?

Mathematics and Science were my favourite subjects at school and I thoroughly enjoyed the `problem-solving aspects of these classes, but I never knew how I could combine these subjects into a degree (it seems so obvious now that engineering was for me). In year 12, I found my passion in understanding the theory of Mathematics and Science and how it connected to the real world. I investigated the potential in real life applications, such as designing a car engine in Physics for a sustainable future and statistically analysing data of chemical bonds in different materials to ensure the correct building materials were used, in Mathematics satisfying and rewarding. Halfway through year 12, a Civil Engineer came and spoke at school. He gave insight into the day to day life of an engineer; I was hooked. I knew from that moment on, that engineering was where I could combine my passion for Mathematics and Science and apply it to real world scenarios whilst also helping improve the quality of life. The broad prospects of engineering also inspired me, and I saw it as a job that I would enjoy whilst working on projects that potentially could affect the way we live in the future.

Why did you choose the discipline you are studying?

When I commenced first year engineering in 2018, I was very unsure of which path I wanted to take but I knew I still thoroughly enjoyed Mathematics and Science. Throughout first year I completed an ‘undeclared’ year and was exposed to all the different disciples of engineering (I would thoroughly recommend this, even if you think you know which path you want to take); I also completed at 10 hour placement at a research centre which helped me in deciding what major I wanted to pursue – I found this experience really opens your eyes and was very insightful. I learnt throughout my first year that I enjoyed thermodynamics immensely and found learning about how many processes join together very interesting as well as solving real-life problems. From this I decided that Chemical Engineering suited me best! I chose a single major as I wanted a little bit more freedom in my degree for electives.

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

University is not all about studying and the grades you achieve, there is so much more that university has to offer. Getting involved in clubs and societies, networking events and careers fairs not only enhances your professional and social skills but enriches your university experience.

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

Throughout high-school I attended a few events and programs at UQ and saw not only how beautiful the campus was but also how supportive and inspiring the people were. I knew from grade 10 that UQ was where I wanted to study and the community I wanted to be a part of, but it took me until halfway through grade 12 to realise that engineering was where my passion was! The facilities for engineering at UQ are state of the art and an engineering degree at UQ is rated very highly; how could I say no.

Your best tip for first-year engineering students?

Take every opportunity that is available to you (say yes!), you never know where it could lead you and if it doesn’t turn out, take it as a learning experience. Don’t let being a first year stop you, you aren’t too young or ‘just a first year’, you can do and achieve whatever you put your mind to. And if in doubt, ask for help, everyone is here to support you along the way.

Your favourite example of amazing engineering?

There’s so many to choose from! The Capilano Suspension Bridge in Vancouver, Canada is spectacular (built in 1889!) and the iconic Skyline Gondola in Queenstown, New Zealand, which is the steepest cable car lift in the Southern Hemisphere, are both top favourites!

Dream engineering job when you graduate?

My dream job would be to work for a company where I am valued and feel like I am contributing to a business in a way that benefits humanity. I would also love to be in a position that involves hands-on experience (not sit in an office all day). Diversity in everyday work would be an absolute dream, where I could broaden my skills to eventually become an Engineering Project Manager. I would also like to travel during my first years as a graduate to enhance my knowledge and see many different perspectives of the engineering world.

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

I hope to inspire and support future female engineering students while sharing my knowledge of engineering with them. As a WE student leader I want to spread the message of the importance of diversity and how massively broad the career prospects are in engineering. I would love to motivate and influence young engineering women and reinforce that gender does not affect ability. You can do anything!