Meet the Next Generation of Engineers

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Following on from our last blog discussing women in renewables, Natasha walks us through her experience at Victoria University and meeting some aspiring engineers...

Last month, I was invited to speak at the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Science Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) Networking Event at Victoria University. I had the privilege of speaking to a group of budding, bright engineers about what it is like to be a female working in the engineering industry and the challenges I have faced working in a male dominant industry. 

According to an article written by Engineers Australia, approximately only 12% of the engineering workforce in Australia is made up of women. I was amazed to discover that even at Victoria University, the ratio of women to men currently studying engineering had not changed significantly from when I studied engineering, almost 10 years ago.

While I was shocked to see that there were still so few females enrolled in engineering courses, I was inspired to see the ambition, energy and passion on display from the students who attended the event.

I was introduced to a passionate and bubbly female engineering student, Sipass Khan, who shared her views on why she decided to become an engineer:

“One of the reasons I chose Engineering is because of my passion for physics and maths throughout high school, it was also an area that I found myself being very confident in. I want to make positive changes in the world, which is partly why I’m leaning towards a career in Electrical Engineering over the other domains available.
I am incredibly passionate about sustainable energy and aspire to be someone who advocates for the use of renewables over fossil fuels. As an aspiring engineer it is incredibly daunting to be thrown into a male-dominated field, however I think by acting as a role model in the field I’d be able to encourage other females to pursue a career in engineering.
I am currently working with VU Academy on my own personal project called “Girls in STEM”. Girls in STEM aims to introduce female secondary students into the world of Science Technology Engineering and Maths, giving them the exposure and guidance to pursue future studies and ultimately careers within the STEM Industries.”

- Sipass Khan, Electrical Engineering Student, Victoria University

Speakers left to right: Natasha Perera (Greenwood Solutions), Rhiannon Gardiner (Ford Australia), Chole Jacob (Ford Australia) and Thruraya Al Jebori (Ford Australia)

Sipass guided me through the university building and introduced me to her team who are currently working on “The Plastic Solution Project”. These students are so energetic, passionate and dedicated about renewable and sustainable solutions that they have volunteered their time to put in the hard work and effort for this project.

Another of her team members, Daniel Jaap, provided some further details about the project:

“One of the founding goals of The Plastic Solution Project is the successful re-purposing of plastic that is collected locally, via clean-up events or through waste collection bins. Currently they are predominantly focusing on the collection of relatively clean PET and HDPE plastics (and intending to process all types in the near future) which is to be shredded down and then be extruded to be able to create 3D printing filament, as well as some consumer products.
They intend to sell the filament to businesses, market the consumer products and reinvest the revenue back into our project, whether it be for the building/purchasing/optimisation of more machines, or our ambitious interactive school program, which we hope to implement Term 1, 2020."


- Daniel Jaap, Civil Engineering student, Victoria University

‘The Plastic Solution Project’ team members from left to right: Sipass Khan, Bryce Cochrane, Daniel Jaap, Frank Stagno and Andrea Hempshall.

I would like to thank Dr Juan Shi for inviting me to speak at this event and Victoria University for hosting and continuing to support their students. This experience has re-invigorated me and my love for engineering, sustainability, leadership, innovation and learning. I am grateful for the opportunity to meet all these aspiring engineers, teachers and leaders in the renewable and sustainable engineering industry.

The event has left me optimistic and I am looking forward to collaborating with many of the amazing individuals that I met towards a common goal of equality and continued innovation in the engineering industry.

If you would like more information regarding women in engineering or renewable energy please feel free to contact Natasha via email on or phone on 03 9131 9807.


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