Beyond Boundaries: The Remarkable Rise of an Immigrant in Australia’s Engineering Realm


In the diverse tapestry of Australia’s engineering landscape, the story of Arsen Ilhan unfolds as a testament to the remarkable rise of an immigrant breaking boundaries. Arsen’s journey into the world of mechanical engineering is not merely a tale of technical prowess but a narrative fueled by unyielding curiosity and a deep commitment to understanding the intricate workings of the world around her. As a philomath, her love for learning extends into the realms of Artificial Intelligence and sustainability, marking her as a visionary in the ever-evolving field. Today, we delve into Arsen’s experiences, her unique perspective as an immigrant, and her tireless efforts in promoting diversity and inclusivity within the engineering sphere.

Could you share your story and what inspired your journey into engineering?

I’m Arsen, driven by an unyielding curiosity that’s been with me since childhood. As a kid, I was the one taking apart toys, exploring what made them tick, and piecing them back together, often in completely wrong ways. My journey into the realm of mechanical engineering was sparked by a combination of curiosity, a fascination with problem-solving, and an inherent desire to understand how things work. I like to call myself as a philomath. It means lover of learning and studying.

I’ve also delved into the realm of Artificial Intelligence (AI), recognizing its transformative potential in reshaping the future. Recently, I embarked on a journey to further understand the ethical dimensions of AI by enrolling in an esteemed AI ethics course at one of Australia’s top universities. Moreover, my commitment to engineering extends to a passionate concern for sustainability. I am deeply invested in cultivating a world where engineering solutions not only solve immediate problems but also contribute to a sustainable future.

How has your experience as an immigrant shaped your understanding of the engineering landscape in Australia?

One of the most enriching aspects of my immigrant experience has been the opportunity to learn and communicate in multiple languages. Living within a culturally diverse environment cultivated an inherent appreciation for diversity. Furthermore, this immersion in multiculturalism has honed my adaptability, a trait I hold in high regard in the dynamic field of engineering. Adapting to new environments, whether cultural or professional, has been integral to my growth as an engineer. It’s taught me resilience and agility, allowing me to navigate complex challenges with an open mind and a readiness to learn.

As an advocate for diversity, how do you actively promote inclusivity within the engineering sphere?

I am deeply committed to fostering inclusivity within the engineering sphere by actively engaging in initiatives that promote diversity and encourage varied participation. My dedication to this cause is evident through my extensive volunteer work, where I have played integral roles in cultivating inclusive environments. Between 2022 and 2023, I dedicated my time and efforts to volunteering at the Drop bears robotics club. Moreover, my involvement as a volunteer at the Women in Engineering committee, starting in early 2021, has been instrumental in driving initiatives that empower women in the engineering field. As a marketing coordinator within this committee, I actively contributed to organizing various events and attracting young female to STEM field. I’ve also had the privilege of engaging in impactful volunteering opportunities, notably at the Royal Academy of Engineering, where I’ve been involved in mentoring graduate engineers.

Can you discuss a specific instance where your work significantly contributed to society or the community?

One pivotal achievement in my career involved authoring an article exploring the applications of AI within the building and property industry, highlighting the different control methods. Another significant milestones in my career involved spearheading a sustainability-focused article aimed at mitigating embodied carbon emissions. By collaborating with a dedicated team, we prepared innovative engineering strategies that targeted a substantial reduction in the embodied carbon emission.

Furthermore, my commitment to sustainability and engineering excellence has been acknowledged, and I am honored to be invited as a speaker at an upcoming event in May in Sydney. This speaking engagement presents a valuable opportunity to share insights and experiences regarding future applications of AI in construction industry. 

How do you think being a finalist for the CIBSE Awards, a UK-based organization, have impacted the direction of your career?

Being nominated as a finalist for the young engineer of the awards was a pivotal moment in my professional journey. This recognition served as a validation of the impact and caliber of my work within the engineering sphere. It was a testament to the dedication, innovation, and expertise I have consistently strived to bring to my field.

Moreover, being a finalist for such prestigious awards facilitated invaluable networking opportunities, enabling me to establish connections with global professionals across various domains of engineering. Networking with experts from different parts of the world enriched my understanding of varied perspectives, further fueling my aspiration for continuous growth and excellence.

How do you strike a balance between your professional aspirations and personal well-being?

Balancing professional aspirations with personal well-being is a delicate yet crucial aspect of life.I prioritize allocating time for personal passions and activities that rejuvenate me—be it spending quality time with friends since no family members in Australia, or exploring nature. Immersing myself in creative pursuits—whether it’s through art, writing, or exploring new hobbies—acts as an expressive outlet. Engaging in these endeavors fosters a sense of fulfillment and allows me to channel my energies in diverse and enriching ways, serving as a counterbalance to the demands of my professional pursuits.

Looking to the future, what profound contribution do you wish to make through your work in the engineering community and beyond?

Looking ahead, my vision extends beyond the confines of engineering as I aspire to make a transformative impact that resonates far beyond professional boundaries.

Beyond the engineering sphere, I envision contributing to broader global challenges. I am deeply involved in contributing to global challenges through entrepreneurial pursuits, particularly in the realm of digital technology. This venture encompasses innovative approaches that merge technological advancements with educational endeavors.

Ultimately, my goal is to leave a legacy of impactful change—an imprint that transcends technological innovation and embodies a commitment to engineering for the betterment of society. I aspire to be part of a collective movement where engineering not only solves complex problems but also uplifts communities and leaves a lasting positive imprint on the world.

As we conclude this insightful interview with Arsen Ilhan, it is impossible not to be inspired by her unwavering dedication to engineering, diversity, and the greater good. Her journey from dismantling childhood toys to being recognized as a finalist for the CIBSE Awards showcases the transformative impact one individual can have. Beyond the accolades, Arsen’s commitment to inclusivity and sustainability, as evidenced through her volunteering and impactful contributions to the engineering community, paints a picture of a professional deeply invested in leaving a positive legacy. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Arsen for sharing her story, insights, and aspirations. May her endeavors continue to break barriers and inspire others in their pursuit of excellence.


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