The creation of an International Family – Abroad in Austria

What happens when you gather 32 girls from 21 different countries? It’s simple, it results in an international family being created as a result of one amazing and priceless experience.

For the majority of July I spent my time in Austria, exploring the culture and history while being a part of the International Summer Academy in Engineering for Women (ISAE4W) at the university of Applied Sciences, Upper Austria. This program ran for two and a half weeks and covered a variety of topics that focused on exploring applied sciences, women in engineering, new technologies in medical science and gave us the opportunity to network with other women who are currently in the field.  

The other participants of the program were from all over the world. Spain, Turkey, Ireland, Japan, China and Canada to name a few. All of us shared the same passion for engineering and natural sciences and it was a chance to not only connect with people from other countries, but also to make long lasting friendships.  

When I first heard I had been accepted into the program I was excited to learn about all the other cultures that would be present at the program; I had always wanted to travel abroad so that I could experience living in a foreign place and have the chance to learn about different ways of life. Not only did Austria’s culture amaze me but hearing everyone’s stories about how they got to Austria was inspiring. None of us had the same story and we were each able to pass on bits of advice to our friends across the globe.  

I would highly recommend completing a program abroad because it is an insightful experience that gives you the opportunity to make international friends and increase your understanding of the world we live in. It is true what they say about going abroad, you are forever changed by it; you bring a little piece of where you went home with you. 

Madison Dias

Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) (Mechanical and Mechatronic)/Diploma in Professional Engineering Practice

Innsbruck: a month that’s changed my life

In January 2019, I packed my bags and headed to Europe. I was going to Innsbruck, Austria, to study their Engineering and Business Winter Program. The feeling was unnerving but exhilarating. As my travels started, the excitement grew, and as soon as I got to Innsbruck, I knew I could see myself living here.

Beautiful architecture, water ways and mountains, everywhere you look in Innsbruck.

Innsbruck is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. The buildings are riddled with culture and history; the food is phenomenal and the people are lovely. Austrian culture is extremely friendly, yet professional; so it was very comforting as a young solo traveller to be welcomed into a culture that felt very safe and supportive.

Innsbruck itself is really small, but has literally everything you need; which gives a really intimate, safe and inclusive feeling. Everything is within walking distance and the scenery is phenomenal. I would have to allow an extra 15 minutes walking everywhere, because I always stopped to take photos of the mountains.

Standing at the top of one of the buildings in the main street, overlooking the main town and the views of the mountains.

Geographically speaking, Innsbruck is in an amazing location, where the other students and I were able to travel together to Germany, Switzerland, Italy and the rest of Austria, on weekends. So not only was I able to experience living in a beautiful European town, but I was able to experience other cultures and countries; from villages in the mountains to major cities.

Studying at the Management Center Innsbruck

The study program was really well structured and a fantastic learning experience. There was a small group of us from around the world participating in this program, and the staff were really organised in making sure we were well acquainted. So we became very close, which has given me a global network now.

Each week we had a different subject, which worked really well with the structure of the program. One of my favourite things was that each subject was taught by a different expert from around the world; so you were taught by very knowledgeable and engaging staff with a lot of global experience.

I studied entrepreneurship, innovation and start up subjects; which was an amazing opportunity to develop and further any ideas I have of my own. As well as develop my business knowledge. I also studied Biotech Product Operations, which was fantastic for me as a Biomedical Engineering student. At UTS, we learn about global processes and standards/regulations; but to be in Europe and seeing these processes first hand, was a very different, beneficial learning experience.

I enjoyed my experience at the Management Center of Innsbruck so much, and was sad to leave; but I know I will be back one day. I have developed so much as a person, and have a new appreciation of the world. If ever given this opportunity, I highly recommend you do it too!


Ola: Tecnun University San Sebastian

So a bit about myself; My name is Carolyn I am of Burmese background and migrated to Australia when I was 2 years old. So basically raised in Australia and English was my first language. I am bilingual and speak Burmese however not fluently as I wish I could. I am an engineering student in my final year, hoping to pursue a career in construction engineering and management. I have a loving family and I am the eldest of 3 children. Family is a big aspect of my life and without their continual love and support I would not have be here today. After doing my HSC, exam stress caused me to have epileptic seizures and damage to my frontal lobe impaired my speech and thinking. However I recovered and started my engineering degree in 2011.

Six years later (slowly making my way) I am at the end of my degree. My main drive in the past six years was to prove to myself that I could do it. Now that I’m close to finishing my degree I wondered what my purpose after the degree was. I had been to graduate interviews where I was stumped by the question “What is your passion?” On the surface it is easy to say money is my motivation however I don’t think that has ever been the truth. It may sound naïve but I’ve always wanted to make a difference and help others. I started the BUiLD program hoping I gain leadership skills and confidence in myself as a leader in the field of engineering. By going to Spain I hoped to put myself out of my comfort zone and maybe regain my purpose and passion for engineering.

On the first days of travelling by myself the language barrier and having to communicate to others who did not speak the same language was the most challenging. I wished I was multilingual and knew basic phrases of Chinese and Spanish. Another challenging aspect was being by myself. I was lonely and homesick and wished I had someone I knew with me. Also having no choice but to stay in a hostel with bed bugs was probably the most depressing part of the first few days. However Spain was beautiful. History and architecture have always interested me and Spain was full of both. The gothic architecture and the way the city was planned out were amazing. I loved walking down the streets imagining the stories and the lives that were lived in those streets. I felt overwhelmed with how creative human beings were and the man made beauty we are capable of. This brought me to my religious roots and reminded me of how we were created to be creative.

At the University Program in San Sebastian I met students from UTS and students from Universities in the USA. Our timetable was filled with Tapas tours, hikes up mountains and learning about the Basque culture. Our course was on Engineering Across Cultures and the lecturer was Greg from the University of Michigan. I learnt the importance of understanding a culture before implementing designs for the country or area. For example, I have always looked back at Burma and wondered why the transport system was so terrible and why they couldn’t just simply just implement systems used in Singapore or even in Australia. I realised each culture and country have different ways of life, beliefs and history and what may work for one country may not work for another. I felt a certain duty as an engineer to realise this and integrate this thinking towards the way I design and work.

For our main assignment we were to come up with a cultural case study for San Sebastian and an engineering idea that might benefit the San Sebastian community. Our group came up with an App that would connect tourists with local tour guides. We came up with this idea due to our interviews with locals that were concerned that the younger generations might miss out on international globalisation due to the fact that they don’t speak fluent English. Also due to the violent history due to racism we saw that it was important for the San Sebastian community to connect with others and have peaceful relations with international communities. I believe our idea was what the culture needed. At first we came up with beach lockers and night transports however we realised these were more of a tourists problems rather than a locals problems therefore we listened to our interviewees and what was important to them.

After the two weeks in Spain I have more of an appreciation for engineering and the opportunities that I have. I have always wanted to make a difference or build something that has value. During the daily grind of university and trying to get that competitive graduate position I may have forgotten why I have chosen this career. I realised I want to be a part of creating buildings that have significance to others where it may be a house for a family or offices where people start their businesses. I would like to thank BUiLD UTS for this opportunity. It will be one of the most memorable experiences in my life.