Elaiza Luker is a QUT PhD candidate researching the structural integrity of materials used in concentrated solar power (CSP) plants.
Elaiza’s interest in STEM and engineering sparked at a young age – she was always asking her dad (a car mechanic) lots of questions about how things worked. Then in high school, she did science and maths subjects and became interested in their application.
After school, she received a scholarship to study engineering at QUT, which opened up a wide range of opportunities. “Eager to explore the diversity of engineering beyond the classroom, I joined university clubs and participated in various programs,” Elaiza explains. “These programs and opportunities not only allowed me to develop an interest in energy and renewable technology, but also a passion for engineering.”
Elaiza went on to share this passion with other students and peers through work as a
Student Ambassador for QUT and as a committee member of QUT’s Girls in Engineering Making Statements (GEMS).
With a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical) in the bag, Elaiza went on to work as a technology consulting analyst, learning about retail, distribution processes and market reforms within the energy industry. It was here she gained a better understanding of the energy industry and realised the step towards more sustainable energy is challenging but necessary. This lead her to pursue a PhD on a topic that focuses on advancing renewable technology.
And now it’s all about the research for this QUT PhD candidate! Elaiza is investigating the life of structural materials exposed to extreme CSP environments so that one day we can have more sustainable and low-cost energy powering our homes. “As global energy demands grow, we seek to progress renewable technologies such as CSP plants that harnesses the sun’s energy to generate sustainable electricity,” Elaiza explains. “However, to improve CSP efficiencies and reliability, structural materials become exposed to more extreme environments, meaning higher temperatures, higher stresses, and molten salts. This pushes the limits of structural materials and with no accurate data to determine when the materials will break, the prospect of using CSP as our main electricity source is high risk and costly.”
Her advice for those who want a career in renewable energy? Explore! “The renewables industry is growing and multidisciplinary, so I would encourage students to explore opportunities, seek out experiences and find what sparks their interest so they can bring a lot of passion into their studies and careers.”
Elaiza’s STEM study and career path
- Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical), QUT
- Short-term Exchange (Renewable Energy), University of Kassel, Germany
- Research Intern (Unmanned Aerial Systems for Agriculture), University of Washington,
- Technology Consulting Analyst (Resources), Accenture
- PhD (Materials Engineering), QUT
Wanna hear more about cool STEM careers in renewable energy? Register for our Next Gen Careers: Future Energy webinar here.
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.