Aorthi Afroza

Aorthi is a final-year Engineering student, specialising in computer systems engineering.

Aorthi Afroza admits she didn't think she'd fit in studying engineering. Aside from the fact she didn't like physics, the 21-year-old had heard any students who weren't boys, were tomboys.

"You think, 'I don't fit that stereotype so I'm not going to fit in and I don't want to do it'," says Aorthi, who - outside her studies - is producing the annual Engineering Revue theatre performance. 

"But then I came to an engineering event and met girls just like me; who like makeup, who are super extroverted and like to dance, act and sing!"

The hackneyed depiction of a typical female engineering student wasn't the only misconception Aorthi soon saw through.

"A lot of people don't think of engineering as helping people; but I now realise everything you do is about making lives easier. I also thought I'd be isolated and working alone, but it's the complete opposite."

Happily, she also discovered not all engineering involves physics - as is the case with her specialisation, computer systems engineering, which encompasses both writing software and creating hardware. One of her most memorable projects has been designing a robot's sensors, then programming it to work out the shortest path through a maze. "I just thought it was incredible," recalls Aorthi, who has interned as a web developer at Trade Me. "Here I was in my third year of engineering, already programming a robot to think."

As to the future, Aorthi is optimistic she will find a job that fulfills her need to make a positive impact on people's lives. 

"I'm very fortunate that my specialisation and the thing I love happens to be something that, especially in New Zealand, is a big industry - tech is really growing."

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