Sarah Heimlich and her friends joke that she’s been involved in the international high school robotics comp, FIRST Robotics, since before she was even born. Officially speaking, it’s been 15 years since Sarah first competed in the worldwide robotics phenomenon – since then, she’s gone from participant to mentor to leader, all with the help of Macquarie.
“Having done FIRST for eight years, I knew I wanted a degree in engineering,” says Sarah. She chose Macquarie for its abundant study opportunities that go beyond the bounds of the classroom. During her degree Sarah scored multiple engineering internships with Google in Sydney, using her software skills on iconic tech products like Google Drive.
“This program helped shape who I am”
Sarah also joined the leadership team behind the LEAP Robotics program, which helps kids from underprivileged schools in Sydney take part in FIRST Robotics. “Through LEAP we have been able to bring FIRST to low-income, Indigenous and refugee students,” says Sarah. “This program helped shape who I am, and getting to give back and help other students along that journey is incredible.”
Not only that, Macquarie has serious game face when it comes to Sarah’s favourite robotics comp. “They gave me the same preferential treatment for robotics that they give to sports stars going to the Olympics! Macquarie has always seen me as more than just a number. They’ve given me the flexibility and freedom to pursue what I’m passionate about and encouraged me along the way.”
Sarah returned to Macquarie in 2018 as a Masters of Research student and she is about to jet off into her next career move – but if you think she’s leaving robotics behind, think again.
“I’m about to move to California to start working at Google, but I’ve already found a FIRST Robotics competition team to mentor there! At this point, I can’t imagine my life without FIRST.”
Sarah’s career path:
>> FIRST Robotics participant and volunteer
>> Bachelor of Engineering (Software), Macquarie University
>> LEAP Robotics Instructor
>> Google software engineering intern
>> Masters of Research student, Macquarie University
To get there: bit.ly/MQFIRST
This article was brought to you in partnership with Macquarie University. It was originally published in Careers with STEM: Code 2019. You can read the e-magazine for free online here.
Author: Eliza Brockwell
Eliza is passionate about creating content that encourages diversity of representation in STEM.