Emily Campbell is an engineering student with a twist: she’s also studying a Bachelor of Arts
, majoring in Spanish.
“I think an understanding of engineering is a powerful ability and capability to have,” the fourth-year student says.
“But without the arts degree, I don’t think I’d have as good an idea of how I can use it or why I should use it or what I should use it for.”
One week at university, Emily’s two worlds collided.
“In engineering we were doing a project that was for a woman who had a hearing impairment and everyone was approaching it very matter-of-factly and at the technical requirements and things like that,” she says.
“At the same time in philosophy, we were looking at the rights of people with disabilities and what responsibilities society has to them.”
This reminded Emily of the purpose of engineering.
“People often forget that engineering is about people,” she says.
“With any problem you approach, unless you can think critically and the person this is affecting, you’re probably not going to do a good job of fixing their problem unless you have that deep understanding and that analysis and the ability to question things a little bit more.”
Emily wrote about this serendipitous week on her blog, All Things E
, which she began writing in 2015 .
While her love of writing was one of the things that drew her to studying arts, Emily says that it’s not so much the writing itself that interests her, but what she writes about.
“When it came to university, I think I saw philosophy as a way to do the writing while thinking about these ideas and learning a bit more about the world.”
She recalls words her grandfather was fond of repeating about her mother and aunt – both of whom studied at the ANU.
“My grandpa studied medicine at university and my mum studied law,” Emily begins.
“My mum’s sister did an arts degree. And grandpa always said that my aunt who studied the arts degree was the only one who got an education. By studying medicine and law, they received training to become a professional. So that stuck in my mind.”
While she appreciates that education presents in many forms, Emily believes that her arts education will give her an edge when she goes on to pursue engineering as a career.
“In engineering, a lot of it can be bidding for work, convincing people that your ideas are good, focusing on the people element when you’re looking at a problem, understanding cultures or needing to speak another language,” Emily says.
“And I think all those parts of engineering are really undervalued. A lot of people underestimate how much they need them.”
In June, Emily will be undertaking
a 2016 Health Sciences and Technology Summer Institute program at Harvard and MIT in America.