Strong UOW ties for outstanding biomedical engineering graduate
Eileen Wallace celebrates graduation at top of the class
Eileen Wallace has a deep family connection to the University of Wollongong.
Her older brother graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering in 2015, her mother Vicky spent many years working for the University in research communications, and her father, Professor Gordon Wallace, is an esteemed scientist and Director of ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Sciences.
So, after finishing high school, Eileen knew UOW was where she wanted to study.
“It’s a really beautiful campus and a prestigious university. Everyone in my family has studied or worked at UOW, so it was special to be able to study here myself,” she said.
In December, Eileen graduated with a Bachelor of Biomedical Engineering, continuing that family tradition. Although her graduation plans, like the entire class of 2020, were derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Eileen and her family still found time to take photos and have a small celebration on campus.
Biomedical engineering was a natural choice for Eileen, who had always had an interest in human anatomy.
“I took three years off after high school and in that time, I completed a Certificate III and a Certificate IV in fitness, so I think that really sparked my interest in bodies and physiology. My favourite subjects at school were mathematics, sciences and physics.”
She is part of the first cohort of students to undertake, and now graduate from, the Bachelor of Biomedical Engineering at UOW.
Eileen finished as the top student in her degree, top of her class and year, a reflection of her dedication over the past four years.
“It is really special to know that I came first in the class,” Eileen said. “It wasn’t easy but if I’m going to do something, I’m going to give it everything. I put in a lot of hard work so it is nice to be recognised.
“I think this last year has been my favourite of my degree, because I was writing my thesis. I spent a lot of time in the labs at Innovation Campus and learning from people with a lot of experience in the field.”
Eileen’s father, Professor Wallace, was an invaluable mentor throughout her degree, particularly because he was able to understand what she was studying and provide a sounding board when she needed help.
“My dad was really helpful to me. He is high up in his field, so to be able to talk to him at home was amazing. His attitude and morale were so positive. I loved being able to chat to him about my study.”
One of the reasons Eileen was drawn to biomedical engineering was the ability to use her knowledge and skills to make a difference to others.
While she has graduated from her undergraduate degree, Eileen is about to start a PhD at UOW, which will focus on bioprinting skin equivalents for people who have suffered injuries from burns.
“I’m excited to begin my PhD. It is super rewarding to be able to use my knowledge to help other people in need and that is something I am hoping to build on with my research.
“I’m just so grateful for the experience of being able to study at UOW. It has been everything I expected and more.”
Main photo: Eileen Wallace with her father, Professor Gordon Wallace, on campus at UOW. Photo: Paul Jones