Recipient of the 2021 James McWha Rising Star Award
Civil and Architectural Engineer Luisa Panuccio is on a mission to change the face of STEM.
While completing her Bachelor of Civil and Architectural Engineering (Honours), Luisa joined BMD Group in 2017.
In 2018, Luisa was offered the opportunity to “work alongside Australian geotechnical engineering royalty Dr Peter Mitchell and Dr Matthew Duffy” and accepted a Civil Engineer role in Aurecon’s transport team.
Most recently Luisa accepted a Project Manager position with TSA Management’s Victorian infrastructure team. She is currently seconded to Arup, where she is the Program Lead for 13 bridge upgrades, as well as the Project Manager for the relocation of a heritage-listed Melbourne church.
Despite this resounding success in her early career, Luisa said, “it has been physically and mentally challenging to be a female in a male-dominated industry and profession”.
“I have found myself constantly having to prove that I deserve to be in the position that I am.”
In 2015 Luisa was named the STEM Ambassador for South Australia by Engineers Without Borders Australia and Google, and became passionate about combating the societal notion of women in STEM.
“The catalyst for my goal to change the STEM stereotype came from the female students,” said Luisa.
“It was the idea that it’s not ‘cool’ to be smart or enjoy science and maths.”
In an effort to shift this perception, Luisa entered the 2019 Miss Universe Australian competition and created a YouTube channel, STEM at HOME, where she demonstrates at-home STEM activities and showcases STEM students and professionals from around the world.
“My goal is for all young girls to know they can be the social butterfly and, at the same time, be a hard-working and award-winning intellectual,” said Luisa.
Named 2019 Graduate of the Year by the National Association of Women in Construction, Luisa has already been recognised extensively for her work. She was a 2020 7NEWS Young Achiever Awards SA Finalist in two categories, and received the Architectural Engineering Research Group Prize, as well as the Architectural Engineering Group Ingenuity Presentation Prize, among a suite of other accolades.