Dr Eva Cheng is the Director of the University of Technology Sydney’s Women in Engineering and IT Program and is passionate about increasing women’s participation in these STEM fields.
To help with this process, Eva oversees programs like Lucy Mentoring, which connects women at UTS studying an engineering or IT degree with industry pros.
“We’ve seen really powerful outcomes, with students increasing their networks, awareness of industry opportunities, career confidence, and motivation to pursue a career in engineering and IT fields,” she says.
Eva also works with Engineers Without Borders (EWB), where students get to address real-world challenges. This year, EWB is working with the Centre for Appropriate Technology in Cape York, allowing students to learn about designs for Indigenous communities.
And she’s a volunteer with Tech Girls Movement too! This foundation is all about providing mentoring and positive role models to girls aged 7-17, while equipping them with STEM skills.
Getting into STEM
A curiosity about engineering and technology was sparked in Eva when the Internet became widely available, back when she was in high school. “I was fascinated by this technology that brought information to us instantly and from all over the world,” she says. “So I joined a few outreach programs from a few different universities in Year 11 and 12, and this motivated me to study telecommunications engineering.”
Halfway through her telecommunications engineering degree, she realised she wasn’t interested in the networking side of things, and instead discovered signal processing.
What connected the dots for Eva was that the signals could be speech and music. “I love music, and have played the piano since primary school – and discovering the field of speech and audio signal processing is why I kept studying in this area combining music with engineering, and now I still research in this space (especially in 3D spatial audio),” she explains. “This area is also really interesting because it is cross-disciplinary, and really fun collaborations with musicians, artists and composers are a big highlight.”
Advice for women wanting to pursue engineering
Definitely do it, she says! Here are her other handy tips:
- Follow what you’re interested in and care about. If it doesn’t exist yet, you can create it or be a part of creating it!
- Don’t be afraid to explore, talk to people, and try things out to see if they work for you – finding out what you don’t like is just as important as discovering what you do like!
- Careers are definitely not a ‘straight line’ from school into uni and then a graduate job – both studying and careers are ‘squiggly lines’ of exploration.
- Enjoy the journey! I had no idea that I would be doing what I do today, not even five years ago, let alone when I was a uni student or at school. What has really made a difference in combining my areas of interest is internships (do as many as you can!) and volunteering – I volunteered for girls in STEM school outreach activities for many years before it became part of my job, and I also volunteered for Oxfam and EWB, which really sparked my passion for social justice.
Dr Eva Cheng’s STEM study and career path to becoming the Director of Women in Engineering and IT
- Bachelor of Engineering (Telecommunications Engineering), University of Wollongong
- PhD, Telecommunications Engineering, University of Wollongong
- Research Fellow, RMIT University
- Lecturer, RMIT University
- Senior Lecturer and Deputy Director, Women in Engineering and IT Program, UTS
- Senior Lecturer and Director, Women in Engineering and IT Program, UTS
Author: Louise Meers
Louise is the production editor for Careers with STEM. She has a journalism degree from the University of Technology, Sydney and has spent over a decade writing for youth. She is passionate about inspiring young people to achieve their biggest goals and build a better future.