CSIRO aerospace engineer Dr Courtney Bright has always had her eyes on the stars. She shares how studying mechanical engineering at VU helped launch her dream career.
“Science has always been an interest for me. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to learn more about the universe, life on Earth and the possibility of life on other planets.
“I was particularly drawn to physics as a child – I remember having my mind blown when I first read about the solar system and the lifecycle of stars in the encyclopaedias we had at home.
“I didn’t know much about engineering before going to university, but I knew from my grandfather, an electrical engineer, that engineers used physics to solve problems, and that appealed to me."
Finding the right pathway
“I knew toward the end of high school that I wanted to work in something physics-related, but due to personal circumstances studying was not a priority at the time – so my ATAR ended up limiting my options.
“The best thing about VU is that it gives people a chance at their desired career if, for whatever reason, their ATAR was not a true reflection of their potential.
“A career counsellor suggested I apply for engineering at VU, so I applied and was accepted into the civil engineering course.
The joy of solving problems
“I am grateful to have been given a chance by VU and for the support and encouragement I received from the staff there.
I really enjoyed the problem-based learning approach in my course. I found that I loved the process of chipping away at a problem and experiencing ‘aha!’ moments along the way.
“I also found the small class sizes beneficial. There was strong engagement with staff and everyone usually knew each other by name.
“There were also plenty of practical engineering activities in many of the classes.”
Combining passions for engineering, space & the environment
“When I graduated, I wanted to find a way to combine engineering with one of my passions – space exploration or renewable energy.
“I completed a PhD (at another university) and began working as the flight operations lead for on-orbit operations of research satellites.
“While my early interest in space was driven by exploration, I am now more interested in pointing satellites down at Earth to help us better protect the environment and understand climate change.
“In 2021, I started a new role as space systems engineer at the CSIRO, where I am now contributing to the National Space Mission for Earth Observation. I’m also helping to get several new CSIRO-developed space technologies into orbit.”
Interested in a career in engineering?
VU offers a variety of courses in engineering, including mechanical, electrical, architectural and civil engineering.