Faculty of
Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology

Kathleen Cox
Kathleen Cox


Third Year Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) Chemical, Master of Engineering

What/who inspired you to choose engineering?

At school mathematics and science were my favourite subjects and I thoroughly enjoyed the difficulty and problem-solving aspects of these classes, but I never knew how I could combine these subjects into a degree. In year 12, I investigated the potential in real applications and found it satisfying and rewarding, 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. Halfway through year 12, a Civil Engineer came and spoke at school who gave insight into the day-to-day life of an engineer. I knew from that moment on, that engineering was where I could combine my passion for mathematics and science and apply it to real 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 specialisation you are studying?

When I commenced first year engineering in 2019, I was very unsure of which path I wanted to take so I completed an ‘undeclared’ year and was exposed to all the different specialisations of engineering. I also completed at 10-hour placement at a research centre which helped me in deciding what major I wanted to pursue – I find experience really opens your eyes and is very insightful. I learnt throughout my first year that I enjoyed thermodynamics immensely and found learning about complicated processes very interesting as well as solving real-life problems. From this I decided that Chemical Engineering suited me best! I chose a specialisation and no 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 the Junior Physics Olympiad and the National Youth Science Forum 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 decide on what degree I would apply for! Walking into the Great Court or past the UQ Lakes to the engineering buildings never gets old, it is a huge standout feature for the university, and it reminds me every day why I picked UQ. The facilities for engineering at UQ are also 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, 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. If a networking event or job interview is further than your normal travel time, don’t let it stop you, say yes! Don’t be afraid of traveling away from home for vacation work or internships, it really gives you a new perspective of the work environment and looks great on your resume!

Your favourite example of amazing engineering?

There’s so many to choose from! I have been fortunate to travel to a few places around the world and see first-hand how impressive engineers ideas are in real life. I was totally mesmerised by the Capilano Suspension Bridge in Vancouver, Canada built in 1889 and the iconic Skyline Gondola in Queenstown, New Zealand, which is the steepest cable car lift in the Southern Hemisphere is very impressive also! I can’t wait to travel again and see many more amazing examples of engineering.

Dream engineering job when you graduate?

The food engineering aspect of Chemical Engineering has always appealed to me and it would be an absolute dream to open my own winery one day! Foremost, I would like to travel during my first years as a graduate to enhance my knowledge and see many different perspectives of the engineering world. I have recently completed vacation work within the wastewater industry and really enjoyed the work I carried out. This is an industry I am definitely passionate about pursing my career in. It would be a dream 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 and not sit in an office all day. A company that values diversity in everyday work, where I could broaden my skills to eventually become an Engineering Project Manager is something that appeals to me.

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

I hope to inspire, support, motivate and influence future female engineering students while sharing my knowledge of engineering with them. I would love to for engineering students to feel they have the support from the WE student leader team so they can achieve to their highest potential. 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!