Gabrielle Harradine was just five years old when she first experienced the life-saving power of medicine. But she wasn’t the one who was sick.
“When I was in kindergarten, my mother got bacterial pneumonia and nearly died. She was born with three lungs. When she got sick, her third lung collapsed and infected half of her second lung. So now she has one-and-a-half lungs,” Harradine explains.
While the surgery to remove the infected lungs may have saved Harradine’s mum’s life, “she has chronic pain from that because all the nerves got rewired and didn’t meet up properly anymore. That was life-changing for her, and obviously for us.
“If it weren’t for those doctors, for those medical imaging devices, for the medicines, then she wouldn’t be here.”
And Harradine wouldn’t be at UTS. Today, she’s in the final-year of a double degree in mechanical and mechatronic engineering and medical science, as well as a Diploma in Engineering Practice.
“When I was at school, I couldn’t choose between being a doctor or engineering. I loved maths and physics, but I also loved the human body and the biological sciences. Now, I do a combined degree in mechanical engineering, mechatronics and medical science. My main interest is applying engineering to the medical industry, so when I saw the Toshiba Medical Systems – UTS Engineering Scholarship, I applied.”
The scholarship, which supports engineering students who have an interest in Toshiba’s diagnostic imaging equipment, awards the recipient $29,000 over the course of a year (in fortnightly instalments) and a six-month internship with the medical equipment manufacturer.
Harradine, who completed her internship in January, says, “It was really hands on. I was repairing CT scanners, MRIs and other medical equipment. I was literally pulling them apart, doing circuitry and replacing circuit boards. Initially I was shadowing engineers and going to call-outs with them, then I ended up doing it by myself. The independence was great!”
She adds, “The scholarship opened new doors to me. Before I applied I didn’t even know this field existed. Maybe in five or 10 years, I’ll go to Japan or America to learn how to design the instruments themselves.”
Her advice to other young women contemplating engineering? “I’d say give it a go. If you really like maths and physics there’s no reason why you can’t do engineering. You shouldn’t worry about whether you’re going to fit in, whether you’ll be good at it or not, or if you’ll feel intimidated or scared. Just go in head first and go for it!”
To find out more about scholarships at UTS and how to apply, visit uts.ac/2uc00Vp