Paige Brown

Bachelor of Software Engineering/Arts

Having completed my first year of study I know that I absolutely made the right decision and I feel completely comfortable in the community that I have found in the College of Engineering and Computer Science.

I knew from my high school studies that software engineering was my passion. When exploring my options through year 11 and 12 I was pleased to find that ANU offered a high-calibre Bachelor of Software Engineering degree. With one of the country's most elite universities at my doorstep, it was absolutely my first choice! Keen to take advantage of the opportunity to study a Flexible Double Degree at ANU too, I have just completed the first year of my Bachelor of Software Engineering and Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in criminology.

When I tell people I'm studying software engineering, they expect that I spend hours alone writing and rewriting code - but this is not the case at all! The Bachelor of Software Engineering degree is engaging, interesting, fascinating, challenging and involves a lot more collaboration and teamwork than I first expected.

I paired my studies in software engineering with criminology because I am fascinated by cybercrime. By understanding the criminological side of how cybercrimes are committed, we can more effectively develop systems and programs that are secure from threats. Initially, many people think this is a strange degree combination. However, computer science is such a versatile field that is necessary in so many industries. It allows you to create systems and programs to solve almost any problem imaginable.

Throughout years 11 and 12 I was the only girl in my IT class, and I didn't expect it to be much different at university. So, to support myself I looked into opportunities to network with other girls who were already studying computing at ANU. During year 12 I participated in Girls in ICT Day.

This event is held each year to introduce girls to the field of ICT and the opportunities available to them. It includes a variety of workshops that demonstrate the incredible diversity of what can be accomplished through IT, and the way in which these skills can be used to improve the world around us.

One of the most enjoyable experiences I've had this year has been assisting in the running of the event. It's been inspiring to share my experiences with other girls who have a passion for computer science. This is an amazing event, both to attend and assist with, and something that I would definitely recommend for all girls considering studying computing at ANU.

Possibly the most valuable opportunity for me as a female student is being involved in Fifty50's Mentor Program. Fifty50 is a student-led gender equity initiative determined to see more girls studying in STEM, pursuing careers in the industry and provided with new opportunities for mentorship and networking.

The program pairs first year female engineering or computer science students with another female engineering or computer science student in their third or fourth year of study. My mentor is a fourth year engineering student. It's been great to have someone who is able to talk to me about my degree and answer any questions or concerns that I have over coffee every couple of weeks. The society also holds lots of events for female students to meet and connect.

Moving from high school to ANU to study computer science means that I am now with like-minded people with similar interests. People finally understand what I am saying when I lament about bugs in my code or the value of one programming language over another!

I have been learning about ways to think about software problems, various programming languages, how to work with engineers to produce a project that involves both engineering and software elements, and I have really found my leadership style. Since starting my degree, I feel confident to take on all sorts of leadership roles.

Having completed my first year of study I know that I absolutely made the right decision and I feel completely comfortable in the community that I have found in the College of Engineering and Computer Science. I was quite shy when I started my degree; however the culture is so great and made me feel so comfortable that I've become much more outgoing. ANU has really taught me that you can study hard and have loads of fun at the same time!