Until last year, mature age electronic engineering student and New Colombo Plan scholar Rebecca Thorburn had never traveled out of Victoria by herself, let alone overseas. Growing up in rural Victoria, it was a struggle to work and save enough to move to the city.
“When I started my bachelor's degree it had been about eight years since I had studied,” she recalls. “It was difficult, but I knew that I wanted something more challenging.”
Rebecca flourished at university and became a strong champion of women in STEM – or learning science, technology, engineering and mathematics. “As Chair of the Women in Engineering Affinity Group at La Trobe University I ran workshops and information sessions in the field of STEM, particularly for female students,” she says.
Broadening her horizons even further, in 2016 Rebecca applied for and won a prestigious New Colombo Plan scholarship to Singapore. She is now studying at the country’s leading tertiary education institute, the National University of Singapore (NUS).
“I have met professors at NUS from around the world and I’ve been able to collaborate with local engineering students on an unmanned aerial vehicle project,” she explains.
Rebecca’s New Colombo Plan experience also opened new doors for her. “The networking events have been great for making professional connections, and I was able to secure my internship through one of these.”
Rebecca now plans to round out her scholarship program with an internship in acoustics and audio-visual design, construction and simulation with the large engineering company, Arup.