Edwina Mead

'Electrical Engineering can take you to a lot of places...'

  • Edwina Mead

Bachelor of Engineering with Honours in Electrical and Electronic Engineering

Senior Software Engineer, Google, Australia

Edwina is already on the way to achieving her goal of seeing the world through her career in engineering. Having started out as a graduate intern at Google Australia, within months she became a Software Engineer there and later Senior, and is enjoying the opportunities on offer at the company.

‘Google is an awesome place to work,’ she says. ‘It’s nothing like any other company I've worked in before. Traveling to Shanghai and Tokyo for work is definitely up there! It was my first time to visit China, so it was a very interesting experience. I also went to Tokyo to help run a hackathon with the Chrome team there.

‘I've been learning Japanese since I was in high school, so it was very cool to put that to the test. It was also fun to see the similarities and differences of these two offices and other Google offices - they are both very Googley, but with a local twist. While I was in Tokyo, I arranged to take some time off the week before so I could do a bit of a tour, which was also fun!

Her current role sees Edwina working on Chrome, specifically the rendering engine Blink it uses. Previously she implemented commenting features for Google Docs, writing the codebase and working through user feedback on the feature.

‘It’s great to be presented with challenging problems every day and be able to work with other smart people to solve them. There’s a lot of freedom and flexibility too - I only need to be at the offices when I have meetings, and as long as I get my work done I can work from anywhere else, including at home or from the massage chair. This sort of flexibility makes my job less stressful, making it easier to meet deadlines and/or work on side projects when I need to.’

Edwina is keen to promote engineering as a career for women. ‘I have taken leadership of the Sydney Women in Engineering group at Google. For this I organise events for the women I work with, and also some external events – the latest being a Girl Geek Dinner. Outside work, I've been helping with a programme called the Girls' Programming Network, which teaches high school girls how to program in Python. We're hoping that the programme will help begin to correct the longstanding gender imbalance in computer science.

‘I also work with the Australia and New Zealand Anita Borg Scholarship, which I am involved in selecting the winners and finalists for. Each year we select a number of winners and finalists from around Australia and New Zealand and send the winners to a retreat somewhere in the Asia Pacific region. Last year, the retreat was in Shanghai, and the year before it was in Tokyo.’

Edwina knew early on that Engineering was the right degree for her, although it was a little harder to choose which area to specialise in. ‘Engineering seemed like a good match for my high school talents in science and mathematics, but during my intermediate year I had a lot of trouble deciding which discipline to do. In the end I decided on electrical as it is the most common denominator.’

UC’s reputation for its Engineering teaching and research influenced Edwina’s decision to study here. ‘I’d heard that Canterbury is the best university for Engineering in New Zealand,’ she says.

One of the things she appreciated about UC was the class size. ‘Our class was unusually small, and because we took a lot of the same courses, I think that gave us a sense of camaraderie. That was invaluable, as was the excellent support provided by the lecturers and staff.’

Edwina believes that an Engineering degree from UC will serve anyone well in their future career. ‘While the skills I learned in some of the courses are not always directly relevant to my job, the problem solving skills I learned can be used in a variety of situations. If you think you'd enjoy it, do it. It is worth the investment in your time – Electrical Engineering can take you to a lot of places!’

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