Faculty of
Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology

Lilly Van Gilst
Lilly Van Gilst
Meet Lilly Van Gilst

What do you study

Bachelor of Chemical Engineering

What/who inspired you to choose engineering?

I was inspired to study engineering because I thought it was the best pathway towards creating tangible positive change in our world. Through hearing a few passionate engineers speak about their profession, I came to believe that engineering underpins every facet of our modern society and can be the key to unlock a more sustainable, more equal and more fascinating world.

Why did you choose the discipline you are studying?

I chose chemical engineering because I would love to be involved in either the medicine or energy sector. These fields are both at the forefront of my mind when it comes to contributing to the world and there is much improvement to be done in the coming years/decades. Chemical engineering also develops a strong process-based mindset which I knew would help me see the vital elements of a larger scale problem wherever I ended up. Failing this, I knew that as a chemical engineer I could work in food production … I mean who wouldn’t want to make chocolate for Cadbury?

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

I wish I knew that everything which feels overwhelming or insurmountable in first year can be broken down into more achievable chunks. But more importantly, I wish I made more use of those around me to help with this. There are so many amazing support systems to be discovered at UQ and people truly want the best for you. In retrospect there are things I will do differently going forward, however, I think it also important to learn these things organically and ease into university life at your own pace.

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

I love the UQ campus a lot, and an abundance of nature was a must for my university choice. My favourite spots are the advanced engineering building overlooking the lakes, sitting in the great court and walking along the river for a peaceful study break. But, of course I also knew about the high calibre of the UQ engineering program and I thought that it’s combination of rigour and support sounded perfect for me.

Your best tip for first-year engineering students?

Work hard and get involved in as much as you can with the university. There are many amazing opportunities and I think the engineering cohort is particularly great to make meaningful connections. Find people to study with in FYLEC and don’t worry if you don’t know what major you want to do.

Your favourite example of amazing engineering?

It is so hard to pick but I think 'Trimph' (Temperature Responsive Injectable Modifiable Peptide Hydrogel) is pretty amazing. It can be injected into the body and its elasticity changes at body temperature to help regenerate damaged tissue such as bones and cartilage. Trimph was engineered by Dr Ali Fathi at The University of Sydney and is undergoing trials currently.

Dream engineering job when you graduate?

I am slightly undecided when it comes to working towards a dream job. However, some top contenders in my mind include:

  • Nuclear engineer working on/in a fusion power plant;
  • Chemical engineer with the UN working on medicine in underdeveloped companies; or
  • of course, making chocolates (preferably working to develop healthier versions of our favourite treats.

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

When I was in high school, I hadn’t really considered engineering until hearing from some female engineers at a leadership camp, and I would love to be able to share my knowledge and experiences with the next group of female students. I believe too many people, particularly young women, don’t know how many different areas of engineering there are, let alone how impactful this field is on the world around us. I would love to be able to interact with students and transfer some of my genuine passion for engineering. I remember receiving my welcome phone call from a girl studying engineering and she was amazing at making me feel prepared and excited for the year ahead. I would love to be on the giving end of such a positive experience as it really shaped my initial perception of the engineering degree ahead of me. I also feel like this role would provide a unique chance to reflect upon and regularly reinforce the drive for studying engineering myself. Being in a team of other students with the same passion for engineering and leadership is an experience I hope I may get to enjoy.