Meet Emily. Vacation student and solar car racer.

While some students were relaxing over the summer holidays, there’s a few that traded in their beach towel to be part of CSIRO’s Vacation Scholarship program.

Through this program, the Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) has been lucky enough to have Emily join the ALA team.

We caught up with Emily to find out about her experience as a Vacation Student as well as her plans to build a solar car to race from Darwin to Adelaide.

Emily performing a titration as part of the National Youth Science Forum in 2014

What’s the best thing about being a CSIRO vacation student at the ALA?

The best thing about working at CSIRO and the ALA over summer has definitely been the opportunity to work on a project that’s quite different to what I usually study in class. It’s meant I’ve been able to learn about biodiversity and data in a context with real impact, speak with passionate researchers about their projects, and discover what’s important in making biodiversity data suitable for a project.

What are you studying at university?

I’m just about to start the third year of my Bachelor of Engineering (Research & Development), majoring in mechanics and materials.

How do you think being a vacation scholar with the ALA has prepared you for any future work within your research field?

Being a vacation scholar has allowed me to work on my own research project, and gain valuable research skills which will be transferable to any project I work on in the future. Working on a research project is very different to working on other projects; it’s generally much more self-driven, and requires a lot more discipline in terms of time management and avoiding procrastination. Literature reviews and reports won’t just write themselves funnily enough!

What’s the next big science thing you are most excited about?

I’m super excited about advances in space technology, and particularly for space travel. New environments and challenges always create opportunities for creative problem solving and tech breakthroughs that have the potential to majorly improve how we approach certain problems here on Earth. So many every day technologies have come about as a result of the unique problems space poses, and it’ll be exciting to see what will be developed in the next few years.

I’m also really excited about the growth in the renewables sector, and the greater focus on sustainable design. It’s always made sense to me to design things with longevity and sustainability in mind, so it’s awesome to see these ideas filtering into various aspects of technology, and products and buildings being designed to have as minimal an environmental impact as possible.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I spend most of my spare time project managing ANU’s world solar challenge team, Sol Invictus. We’re in the process of building a solar car to race from Darwin to Adelaide in October this year.

When I’m not busy helping to secure sponsorship for the team or making sure our technical designs are on track, I’m working on something for Fifty50 – a student led organisation that promotes gender equity in STEM. I’m currently helping organise the o-week activities, and have been involved as a mentor and mentee in the past.

In between all of these things, I enjoy reading, going to the movies, and catching up with my friends, many of whom live interstate or overseas.

Emily checking out Team Arrow’s 2015 solar car with the ANU team

What are you most excited for in 2017?

Getting our solar car across the finish line in October. It’ll be amazing to see the culmination of nearly two years’ worth of work, on a student led project that has involved over 50 students from all across the university.

For more information about CSIRO’s vacation scholarship program you can visit CSIRO’s website.