Diploma in Mechanical Engineering
Fiji National University
First year Fiji National University (FNU) student Maria Madigibuli is thrilled to finally be studying her childhood passion and chosen field, mechanical engineering under the Australia Awards Pacific Scholarship program.
Maria is from the remote island of Taveuni and growing up was inspired by her brother who is also a mechanical engineer. When asked what motivated her to study mechanical engineering, she said:
“Mechanical Engineering is a broad field. It might be challenging but the skills and tools that will be learnt in this course will enable me to work in a range of fields, and that is what I love most about it.”
Maria was the only female out of 8 recipients selected to study engineering-related diplomas in 2021. In addition, females represent only 11% of the mechanical engineering class at FNU this year.
“In most societies, people always look down on females when they enter a male dominant field but that has to change. As we know females are well off with analysing and paying attention to little details, skills which I believe are crucial to engineering.
“Engineering is not just a career choice for males, it’s a career choice for any student. We need a diverse set of minds to solve problems and drive innovation. Not only do females make fantastic engineers, but engineering is an interesting career to pursue,” she said.
When asked about her long-term career progressions, she responded with:
“Since I am from a rural family and the main activity in my community is farming, I want to find ways to contribute towards this. Mechanization is one option to sustain agriculture and it is the main function of agriculture-focused mechanical engineering, whereby engineers can support through available tools and new technologies. As a mechanical engineer, I would be able to make functional mechanical tools and implements for agricultural purposes.”
In the future, Maria is motivated to own her own engineering company. She also encourages other young women and girls interested in the field to pursue their dreams.
“All that really matters is if you enjoy designing and discovering how the technology around you works – if you happen to be a woman with these interests, there are many opportunities. If you’re a person who’s curious about how things work and enjoy problem solving, then engineering is for you.
Quoting a well-known women’s rights champion, Dr Marguerite Rawalt, Maria said “The world needs scientists and engineers and if a brain is qualified to do such work, it should be encouraged, not smothered because it is a female brain.”