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Barbara Van De Sande

Industrial design engineer

In high school, Barbara Van De Sande’s teacher told her she’d never be good enough for medical engineering. It ignited a fire in her. 

Self-described as ‘really competitive’, Barb was determined to prove them wrong and much to her satisfaction, that’s exactly what the now 30-year old engineer has done. 

As an industrial design engineer at a small business Tiller Design, based in Sydney, Barb specialises in and is responsible for the design of both technologically advanced and more commonplace medical products. 

As a consultant, the potential for her work is essentially limitless; on any given day she could be working on a diagnostic test, an MRI machine or insulin pumps. 

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Her passion for making medical products that are easy to use and tangibly improve people’s lives, comes from her work as a teenager at a summer camp for children with disabilities in her homeland of the Netherlands. 

Recently diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer and in the middle of chemotherapy treatment, Barb finds the humour in her new role as a patient on the other side of the medical products she’s so used to working with. 

“It’s really interesting now (specifically because my job focuses on usability) to get that first-hand experience with the products and really understand what isn’t working!” 

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She says the experience will inform her future process and might even inspire some new products…

Her advice for young girls interested in STEM? 

“Don’t be daunted by the subjects and don’t think you have to be at the top of your class to succeed. You can be middle of the road  ‘average’ with your marks, as long as you have focus, passion, commitment and you enjoy it. That’s the main thing!”

Barb’s study and career path

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