on October 5th, 2023

Engineering Institute of Technology (EIT) student Justina Viola chats about receiving an EIT scholarship, completing her on-campus Master of Engineering (Civil: Structural) CRICOS Course Code: 0100461, and what it’s like being a female in engineering. 

Justina Viola, an EIT student who is originally from Tucuman, Argentina but now residing in Perth, Australia, has made remarkable strides in engineering. 

Her journey through the master’s program, bolstered by the prestigious 2021 EIT International Science and Engineering Merit (ISEM) Scholarship, is a testament to her unwavering dedication to her craft. 

In this interview, she shares her remarkable story with us, beginning with her scholarship triumph, enriching experience at EIT, and future civil and structural engineering ambitions. 

Justina Viola: ISEM Scholarship recipient and Master of Engineering graduate.

Congratulations on receiving the 2021 EIT International Science and Engineering Merit (ISEM) Scholarship. Tell us what that was like. 

Thank you very much. This was the first time I’d ever applied for a scholarship, so I did not know what to expect. I kept very positive about it because otherwise, it would have been hard for me to undertake this master’s degree. When I received the ‘granted’ notification, I was thrilled and knew this would be a life changer for me. The 2021 EIT ISEM Scholarship gave me the opportunity to become an engineer, and I will always be grateful to EIT for this. 

What led you to choose EIT for your Master of Engineering (Civil: Structural) degree, and how was your experience? 

I chose EIT after thorough research. The small class sizes appealed to me, fostering close interactions with professors, which I value for creating a positive and conducive study environment. Additionally, EIT’s online course offerings proved essential during the pandemic, ensuring uninterrupted learning. My time at EIT surpassed expectations, equipping me with both theoretical and practical knowledge over the last two years and transforming my life. 

How did your time at EIT help you bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and real-world engineering practice?

Our exceptional lecturers inspired us to cultivate problem-solving skills, urging us to think like professional engineers rather than mere students. This ethos encouraged us to engage in extensive research, create tables, and spreadsheets, and produce engineering reports with unwavering ethical conduct and academic integrity, shaping us into well-rounded and ethical engineers.

As a woman in engineering, what are your thoughts on gender diversity in the industry?

I have had a great experience in the industry so far. Starting with my experience at EIT, followed by my current role as a design engineer. It is a fact that men’s and women’s roles are changing, and so are our societies. I believe that people in the industry increasingly understand this, but much more is to be achieved. Work opportunities should be equal for all people, regardless of gender, based on their skills, knowledge, and abilities. If people are not given such opportunities, the world would lose a potential great engineer.

Have you faced any unique challenges or opportunities, and how do you see the future for women in engineering?

Yes, I think my main challenge was changing industries, from architecture to engineering. I have always worked with engineers but did not know what it would be like to become one. And instead of being an obstacle, this challenge motivated me to strive towards my goal.

Ultimately, I proved that I could achieve anything if I set my mind to something and worked hard for it. And this is not only applied to study, but I think this applies to everything in life. Fortunately, I have not faced any challenges in the industry as a ‘woman’; conversely, I was very welcome as a person with a hunger to learn, ready to offer challenging work, and a strong work ethic.

Could you highlight some of your most memorable experiences or projects during your studies at EIT that have impacted your career?

One standout memory from my time at EIT was the winter break workshops, where I had the chance to collaborate with students from diverse fields such as Mechanical, Electrical, and Industrial Automation. This cross-disciplinary interaction enriched our learning experience through knowledge-sharing and friendly interactions.

Regarding projects, one that left a lasting impression was when we were tasked with creating Excel spreadsheets for steel beam design. Initially unfamiliar with Excel, I felt challenged. However, our lecturer emphasized its importance in our engineering careers, so I dedicated myself to learning it from scratch. In just three weeks, I developed a fully automated spreadsheet, which I still use today.

What advice would you offer young women considering engineering studies?

I would encourage young women to be part of this exciting industry. From my experience, everyone can achieve their dreams with clear objectives, hard work, and self-confidence. Engineering is a thrilling and challenging industry where we can improve the world.

Your scholarship win highlights your commitment to academic excellence. Can you share some strategies or approaches you used to excel in your studies that might benefit other students?

The most crucial strategy is commitment and responsibility; nothing can be achieved without effort. Thus, studying a bit every day and being prepared for each lecture (going through the provided material before lectures, writing down questions, comments, etc.) is essential in this process.

Furthermore, students should treasure the opportunity to go to college and understand that it is not about fulfilling assignments but learning (understanding it is not a competition either). Finally, students should appreciate the time and effort that lecturers put into preparing their classes, so being respectful to them is very important because this way, we become not only engineers but also good people.

Could you discuss the importance of mentorship and networking in engineering and share any experiences or mentors who have significantly impacted your journey?

In my opinion, mentorship is critical. There have been moments during my journey where I struggled and felt entirely lost. I received much support from lecturers during my studies at EIT, where they were for me whenever I had doubts, questions, and even personal issues. I was also fortunate to have two friends who are engineers who selflessly offered me their time, knowledge, and advice. Especially during the writing of my thesis project, which was different from the rest of the units, in which I could debate and discuss with my fellow students and lecturers.

Finally, what are your career aspirations in civil and structural engineering, and how do you plan to contribute to the profession’s advancement?

Looking ahead, I aspire to be a better professional every day, taking my work seriously and devoting my working hours to doing my job to the best of my ability. I want to be consistent with my work ethic and continue to learn daily to pass this on to emerging professionals.

Engineering Institute of Technology