Betime Nuhiji is the epitome of the local girl made good
This week Betime will be on one of those planes as she leaves her much loved Deakin to take up a prestigious position at the NanoFactory at Leeds University in England.
“It will be really sad to leave Deakin,” she said. “But this is a fantastic opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.
“It was amazing when they offered me the job and pretty much wanted me to start right away.
“It is also pleasing for me, as a big supporter of Deakin University, and women in engineering, too, that the work being done here at Deakin is more and more being recognised around the world.”
Dr Nuhiji’s PhD supervisor at Deakin, Dr Bronwyn Fox, echoes those sentiments.
“This is an awesome job for Betime,” she said. “I would take it myself!
“As well as research there will be a commercial side to her work, bringing together other scientists in research collaborations.
“While it is a great honour for Betime, it is further recognition that at Deakin we are really helping young scientists develop their research and their careers at a global standard.
“I have known Betime for a long time. My mother taught her at North Geelong Secondary College. She began as an undergraduate at Deakin about the time I joined as a researcher.
“It is really fantastic to see the way she has developed her career to this level and it will be fantastic to watch where it goes to from here.”
Betime Nuhiji fell in love with Deakin and engineering when she attended an open day while still a student at North Geelong Secondary College.
“I came along and everyone was very friendly,” she said. “Then they let me play with the robots and I knew that engineering was what I wanted to do.
“When I started first year, there were about five or 10 women here and most of them were in environmental engineering, which means our units didn't always meet up with theirs.
"So I thought 'all right, I want more women here'. When open days would come up, I would be talking to a lot of girls. Those girls that I did talk to came the next year and that was brilliant.
"I don't think that people get enough information in high school about engineering. Girls will look at it and think 'I don't want to do this to a car, I don't want to pull it apart'.
"But the sort of work I am doing is way beyond that. It is very exciting science, it is about helping build the cars of the future.
Nanocomposites will help make cars and aeroplanes safer and more efficient.
"If we have lighter, stronger materials, they will use less fuel, so they will be more environmentally friendly so you can feel like you're really making a contribution to a better future.
"I am working on epoxy thermoset nanocomposites using a new technology developed in Australia - Quickstep - which has been used to date to make advanced carbon fibre composites for the automotive and aerospace industries.“
Early in her research career Betime Nuhiji set herself a couple of goals - getting a PhD and then landing a top job in Europe.
That she has landed both while still so young should provide even more inspiration for young women to take up engineering at Deakin.