Laura De Rango

Laura De Rango

Laura De Rango

Specialisation: Chemical Engineering

Biography

Student type: Domestic
Degree: Bachelor of Engineering (Chemical) & Bachelor of Science (Double major in maths)
Year of study: 5th year

"Monash provided the option to do a double degree, allowing me to choose Engineering without giving up the Bachelor of Science so i completed two Bachelor degrees in 5 years."

So why engineering? What attracted you to it as a career?
At high school, I loved maths and science. I originally planned to complete a straight Bachelor of Science but the problem-solving aspect of Engineering attracted me to the double degree.  As much as I enjoy Maths, which I’m studying in my Science degree, it is my engineering units which I continue to find the most challenging and stimulating.

Who was your biggest influencer, the person that supported your decision to study engineering?
My year 12 maths teacher suggested that I consider engineering after solving a particularly difficult problem in class – until that point, I had never considered engineering as an option.

Why did you choose engineering at Monash, what was the tipping point, the thing that made you decide it was for you?
Monash provided the option to do a double degree, allowing me to choose Engineering without giving up the Bachelor of Science. Engineering is a 4-year course so by only extending an extra year, I get to complete two bachelor degrees simultaneously. I have loved studying at Monash for the range of student clubs and societies, which I believe are as important as attending class!

What’s the best thing about engineering?
I love the concept of engineering because it is ultimately the application of science to find solutions which benefit society. Problem solving using real-world processes is inherent in my engineering classes and there is rarely a single ‘correct’ solution – just an answer than is the most justifiable and logical given the initial problem.

My vacation work programs have confirmed that I love to see processes in-action; this means being on-site, wearing steel-cap boots, a helmet, and fluoro-vest! In the case of chemical engineering, optimising an industrial process on a large scale is very interesting because a tiny change can have large flow-on affect, drastically decreasing the use of materials and energy or improving the specifications of the product.

How do you think we can make girls at school consider engineering as a career, alongside traditional areas like medicine or law?
I believe that we need to educate girls on the range of work available to engineers and the impacts you can have on the community with an engineering degree. Traditional careers like medicine, law or teaching have quite defined career paths that most school students understand when choosing their own university degree. Engineers, on the other hand, can work in a huge range of areas – from a Melbourne office working for a bank or consulting company, to regional Australian mines and on off-shore oil and gas rigs, and everything in between. Engineers do more than build bridges!

What is one piece of advice you’d give to a girl thinking about engineering as a career? Or a girl who enjoys STEM subjects?
Various disciplines such as chemical, civil, electrical, and mechanical engineering can be studied at Monash, and each can lead to a huge array of work opportunities as a graduate. I would advise students to research the various disciplines of engineering to gain an understanding of the concepts and skills they will learn and their future career options.

What inspires you to keep on questioning?
My internships have taught me that it’s essential to continually question established methods to ensure optimal solutions are employed. With the ongoing optimisation of technology, there always seems to be a ‘better’ way to do something, whether it be more efficient, cost-effective or have less of an impact on the environment. Questioning conventional ideas, practices and solutions is an important way to keep learning and initiate change.

If you could solve one problem that we face in our day to day lives, what would it be?
I would increase the energy efficiency of renewables such as wind, solar and geothermal power to levels which would convince Australia to invest heavily in these technologies, replacing our reliance on fossil fuels as our energy source.