Abigail Arulandu


As a child, Abigail Arulandu liked pulling things apart and putting them back together but she’d never considered being an engineer until she saw search and rescue robots in action at Study at Vic Day. “At secondary school I thought I wanted to study criminology but going to the Vic open day and seeing some of the amazing stuff being designed by engineering students inspired me to change my mind,” says Abigail.

Abigail came to engineering with only a little experience of electronics and no knowledge of programming. It made the first year of study quite challenging but also exciting and by year two, Abigail knew she had found what she wanted to do. “Engineering is practical and hands-on and you gain a really broad range of skills. There are so many things out there you can apply your learning to.” Friendly and flexible is how Abigail describes the School of Engineering. “The classes are not too huge and it’s easy to get to know other students and the staff. We also have new laboratories and buildings so the facilities and equipment are fantastic.”

Her major focus for her fourth and final year of her engineering honours degree was developing a device to help rehabilitate stroke patients. The robot is designed to strap on to their arm and help exercise and strengthen their hand, assisting patients to relearn the sensation of muscle movement.

This idea developed into a Master of Engineering project. New Zealand company Im-Able obtained funding from the Ministry of Science and Innovation for Abigail to develop a prototype, and is currently working to patent and sell the device. Abigail has also accepted a position as product development graduate at Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, where she will start work in 2013.

Giving things a go is Abigail’s tip to new students at Victoria. “I had no idea a few years ago that I would be doing what I am but I’m glad I took the plunge. It’s good to take a bit of a risk and try something new.”