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Catherine Isaac

Mechanical Engineer at Cochlear

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Tell us how you got into mechanical engineering?

I went straight from high school into university to study Materials Science and Biomedical Engineering. I graduated from UNSW in 2016 with a Bachelors in Materials Science and a Masters in Biomedical Engineering. While at university I participated in a materials research exchange project at North Carolina State University and worked as an intern and part-time employee at Cochlear. Cochlear hired me as a graduate engineer and I’ve been working there ever since.

What is the big picture goal or purpose behind the project you’re working on at the moment?

To develop a new and improved cochlear implant that will empower deaf people to hear better, connect with others and live a full life.

When did you get switched on to STEM, and how?

I think I’ve always been switched onto STEM. Both of my parents are engineers and I’ve always been interested and encouraged to learn about science and how things work.

What is the coolest, strangest, best, most meaningful, most ambitious or favourite project you’ve worked on so far?

The cochlear implant project that I’m working on now is by far the most meaningful and ambitious project I’ve contributed to. The potential to improve the hearing of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, enabling them to hear the voices of their loved ones and hear music again motivates me to do my best everyday.

What’s been your biggest fail on this journey?

My biggest fail has been not making the effort to be involved in more learning and career opportunities during my time in high school and university. There are so many cool jobs and opportunities available that I never took advantage of.

What do you know about STEM now that you didn’t know at school?

STEM provides a pathway into so many different careers and it’s not all hard hats and steel-capped boots. I’ve met curators for the Powerhouse Museum exhibits, marine biologists who travel to tropical islands to research coral and engineers working on nuclear energy at ANSTO. The possibilities out there are endless!

What are some of the most exciting career opportunities you see emerging in STEM?

I think the opportunities around artificial intelligence (AI) and sustainability are going to become very exciting in the next few years. The potential for AI to make life easier and more efficient and the need to ensure that human life is sustainable for generations to come involve complex challenges and exciting new careers.

Why do we need more women working in STEM?

STEM careers involve identifying and solving problems. Without female representation, issues that half the population face can be over-looked and ignored due to lack of awareness. The thought process that AI uses doesn’t magically come from the computer it comes from the engineer that writes the code. To make sure that women are equal members of society we need to be included and involved in creating the technology of the future.

What is your advice to young women who want to learn about and pursue a career in STEM?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions and take every opportunity you can. People are generally more than happy to answer questions and talk to you about topics, especially if it’s something they’ve been working on or studying.

What’s your own dream job/biggest future goal?

I have two future goals I want to work towards. I love to organise and plan so I would like to go into a team leadership role for projects to help them run on time, more cheaply, efficiently and deliver better solutions. I’m also very passionate about the environment and would like to move into a role that would enable me to reduce the negative human impact on Earth. I’m still figuring out what this would involve but I’ll get there one day!

What is something interesting or surprising about you that not many people know about?

I’ve travelled to every continent in the world and I compete in doubles pole dancing.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”77953″ img_size=”large” style=”vc_box_circle_2″][vc_column_text]

“The potential to improve the hearing of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, enabling them to hear the voices of their loved ones and hear music again motivates me to do my best everyday.”


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