inspiring others YASSMIN ABDEL-MAGIED COORDINATES AN INTERNATIONAL YOUTH ORGANISATION, DESIGNS RACING CARS AND HAS BEEN NAMED 2010 YOUNG QUEENSLANDER OF THE YEAR, ALL WHILE COMPLETING HER FINAL YEAR OF A BACHELOR OF MECHANICAL ENGINEERING.
? I was born in Sudan’s capital city YOU WERE BORN IN SUDAN?
Khartoum. We moved to Australia when I was two, so I consider myself Aussie, but we go back to Sudan every few years to see family.
IT LIKE TO GO BACK THERE? ? WHAT’S It’s funny because I didn’t ever really think of it as a big deal. It never really occurred to me that it was any different until people started mentioning it to me or when I’d show them photos and they’d say “that is so African”. It was then that I started to realise that it is so foreign to a lot of people.
YOUR BACKGROUND INFLUENCED ? HAS YOUR SOCIAL CONSCIOUSNESS? I think the fact that I visit Sudan every few years means that I have seen a lot of things which most people my age haven’t. I am fortunate to have been raised in Australia and to have all of the opportunities I have had – I think this makes me feel responsible and obliged almost to give back to society. I feel giving back is part of my responsibility and role as a person. It’s something that I don’t even see as a question – it’s just the right thing for me to do.
DO YOU DO IN YOUR ROLE AS DID YOU CHOOSE UQ? ? WHAT ? WUQHYreally TEAM MANAGER? is the premier place to study and I wanted the best of the best that I could get here. UQ has been fantastic for me. I’ve joined the UQ Racing team which I’m managing at the moment. But I also love the small things; coming into uni every day and having a big group of mates and being part of the engineering community.
AN YOU TELL ME MORE ABOUT UQ ? CRACING? UQ Racing is our formula SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) team. We design and build a car and race it at the end of every year against other universities in Australia. We’re hoping for a top ten finish this year. I’m actually designing the chassis for next year’s car as my thesis, although I’m graduating this year so I’m not going to see it compete which is totally depressing! I always start speeches with “I’m going to tell you three things. It’s called two truths and one lie.” The two things that are true are that I design cars and I’ve been doing boxing for four years. The lie is that I was born in Australia. People never know what to think. They look at me and think “What?! No, she wouldn’t design cars.”
I came into the role firstly wanting to develop the car technically but also to create that team dynamic. It’s really about creating that motorsport community, rather than it being a purely technical exercise.
ARE THE FOUNDER OF YOUTH ? YOU WITHOUT BORDERS... I started it when I was 16 after I attended the Asia Pacific City Summit. I was complaining to my mum that all these organisations existed but they weren’t working together and she said “Why don’t you do something about it?” So I went back to the summit and I convinced three other people that it was a really good idea. It came down to finding those first few followers and finding that support network and then starting with a project. Essentially, the whole concept is empowering young people to work together on projects that have a positive change for their community.
YOUTH WITHOUT BORDERS HAD ? HAS ANY MAJOR PROJECTS LATELY? Yes, the Spark Engineering Camp. It was a five day residential camp solely for high school kids in grades 10-12 from migrant, indigenous, low socioeconomic or refugee backgrounds. We really just wanted to show them what possibilities exist in uni and the fact that yes they might not have considered uni before, yes no one in their family might have gone to uni, but it is an opportunity for them. Quite a few of the students said they hadn’t even considered uni and were now considering studying engineering.
DO YOU HOPE TO DO WHEN YOU ? WHAT GRADUATE? I’m applying for postgraduate scholarships to study social sciences overseas. I think that my strength will be that I can come to the political science arena with a completely different background, and provide a different perspective. I think I’m at the stage where I just want to be challenged that little bit further; there is so much to learn still
<< I feel giving back
is part of my responsibility and role as a person
INGENUITY ISSUE 1, 2011
UQ Ingenuity Magazine - For graduates, alumni, industry and studentsof Engineering at The University of Queensland.