Despite some initial reservations, Sian’s passion for STEM and making a real-world impact led her to complete a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) at the University of Newcastle. With the desire to continue learning and discover how society can reduce its carbon footprint, Sian is now a PhD candidate at the University of Newcastle’s Institute for Energy and Resources.

“I’ve always been very curious and hardworking, and I like to understand how things work. However, when I finished high school, I was really unsure of what I wanted to do,” Sian said.

“I had never considered engineering, mainly because I didn’t know any engineers, but I was also apprehensive about joining such a male-dominated field.”

“I chose the University of Newcastle because of its excellent reputation. Being able to visit the University throughout high school for Science and Engineering Challenges and open days allowed me to get a great feel for what it would be like to study here,” Sian said.

Since completing her undergraduate degree, Sian’s interest in both engineering and supporting the women studying in her field has continued to grow.

“As a chemical engineer my focus is on improving the efficiency of processes and I love knowing that I can make real world impacts by applying my research to larger scale industrial processes,” Sian said.

“I’m also hugely passionate about advocating for women and greater diversity within STEM.”

During her time at the University of Newcastle, Sian has taken advantage of various opportunities including the Global E3 Program. With participating universities in more than 20 countries, the Global E3 Program offers undergraduate engineering students the chance to study abroad and carry out internships worldwide.

“As the University of Newcastle is a member of Global E3 I was able to study in both France and Sweden where I completed both electives and core courses for my undergraduate degree. Living in another country allowed me to fully immerse myself in a different culture and to create a vast international network of professional contacts and friends.”

With participating universities in more than 20 countries, the Global E3 Program offers undergraduate engineering students the chance to study abroad and carry out internships worldwide.

Sian appreciates the support she has received while completing her studies and said it has encouraged her to give back to the University of Newcastle community.

“I am so grateful for the wonderful support I received. I’ve been lucky enough to be involved with the University’s   volunteer mentoring program where I’ve been able to mentor various students and assist in providing the support and skills they need to succeed in their degrees.”

“I am particularly excited about helping to design and deliver the school outreach program of the University’s ARC Centre of Excellence for Enabling Eco-efficient Beneficiation of Minerals. This will be targeting primary and high school students, particularly in rural communities, to highlight all the possibilities a career in mineral processing can deliver,” Sian said.

Sian is a big believer in letting what you enjoy learning about and doing drive your study and career choices.

“Remember to just go for it! The University of Newcastle has loads to offer no matter where your interests lie,” Sian said.

“There is so much support available to you throughout your degree and it’s an excellent place to grow, learn, have fun and make lifelong connections.”

Study a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering (Honours) at the University of Newcastle

Sian Parkes

Sian’s passion for STEM and making a real-world impact led her to complete a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) at the University of Newcastle.

I chose the University of Newcastle because of its excellent reputation. Being able to visit the University throughout high school for Science and Engineering Challenges and open days allowed me to get a great feel for what it would be like to study here.

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.