Faculty of
Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology

Sarah Olsen
Sarah Olsen

Meet Sarah

Fifth Year Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) Chemical and Environmental

What/who inspired you to choose engineering?

I attended a WE event at the UQ open day in my final year of high school, and had the opportunity to meet some women studying engineering. Hearing about their projects, their interests and university life really inspired me to pursue a career in engineering. I was also able to visit the chemical engineering at labs at UQ and speak to some master’s students, and thought they were doing some pretty cool things. I knew that a career in engineering could provide me with a broad range of experiences and opportunities, all of which can change the world.

Why did you choose the specialisation you are studying?

I chose to study Chemical Engineering specialisation with a major in Environmental Engineering because I wanted to help improve existing processes and be challenged in my career. Like many others I really enjoyed maths in school, and thought engineering would be a great choice. I’m happy with my decision to pursue Chemical Engineering as there are plenty of opportunities for process engineers. I think it’s a great mix of chemistry and problem solving alongside group work.

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

To get the most out of university, I think it’s important to say yes to as many opportunities as you can. You can make new friends, gain new experiences and skills which can help build your resume. It might seem scary, but I’d encourage new students to get out of their comfort zone. See what events your engineering society is holding and go to one!

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

UQ is ranked #1 in Australia for Chemical Engineering – how could I pass on that! I applied for UQ because I thought it would be great to have on my resume for employers, and there are so many great opportunities available. There’s also great support for first year engineers, with a first-year learning centre and tutors. We also have the opportunity to visit multiple sites and plants throughout the degree to see what chemical engineering is first-hand, include a cohort trip to Gladstone to visit the Santos LNG plant which was beautiful!

Your best tip for first-year engineering students?

Finding friends in your cohort is the best way to succeed at university. I think it’s important to be surrounded by people who are going through the same subjects as you, and you can develop and help each other at the same time. I study much better with other people, so it can be helpful to push yourself to find friends – although it can be daunting.

Your favourite example of amazing engineering?

An exciting engineering concept currently being explored for feasibility is green hydrogen through electrolysis, which can hopefully provide a cleaner fuel for large scale use around Australia!

Dream engineering job when you graduate?

I’d love to gain experience as a site engineer at a range of plants, like a water treatment plant or a gas processing facility for some hands-on work. I would also love to have the opportunity to travel for work!

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

As a 2021 WE student leader, I want to help educate high school students about what engineering really is, and help show that it is an attainable career for women, let alone anyone. I’d love to be able to contribute to WE’s goal of increasing the female intake of engineering students, and have the opportunity to share my experiences with high school students.