Spark Series Spotlight – Harrison Dean (OH 2017)

The OHA are delighted when alumni give back to their school. This year, saw the introduction of the Haileybury Spark Series, developed and run by the Haileybury Careers Department. OHA members volunteered their time to come back and speak to students about their possible careers paths.

Harrison completed a Commerce degree at UoM  and is completing Postgraduate studies in Engineering, he explained to students that the breadth model at the university gave him the flexibly to shape his degree in a way that allowed  him to focus on areas of interest such as Finance and Economics, whilst also studying Science subjects that would enable him to study engineering. Harrison is the Vice President of the Aerospace and Engineering Society.

Both presenters spoke of the value of  the clubs at University. It helped them to  make friends with likeminded people and  emphasised  how it can also help you to build your capacity beyond just the academic work.

They encouraged our students to embrace all that universities have to offer and to have the confidence and self-belief that you can succeed.

We had the pleasure of getting to know Harrison a little more through the Spark Spotlight Series:

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

Graduated Haileybury Berwick 2017. Right after graduating Haileybury I started full-time study of a University of Melbourne (UoM) Bachelor of Commerce (BCom), graduating in 2020. Having studied the necessary physics and mathematics prerequisites as breadth subjects in the BCom, I’ve started studying a Master of Mechanical Engineering (Aerospace) also at the University of Melbourne. Alongside this study I’ve engaged in other career-relevant experiences; I’m Vice-President at the UoM Aerospace Society, have delivered a space policy white paper to the Australian Space Agency, and have served on the committee of the Australian Youth Aerospace Association. I’m currently a funding officer at the Melbourne Space Program.

What did your post-school pathway look like? Did it differ from the pathway you had in mind when you finished school?

I knew that I wanted to study both commerce and engineering when I left school. I was weighing up between an engineering/commerce double degree at Monash University or a Bachelor of Commerce followed by a Master of Engineering at the University of Melbourne. Having picked the latter, I’ve broadly followed the pathway I expected, although I was fortunate that the University of Melbourne introduced an aerospace engineering master before I finished my BCom. This has allowed me to specialise in the specific branch of engineering I want to work in.

What were your priorities in school? How have your priorities changed since leaving, if they have changed?

My priorities at school were to maintain strong academic results and to engage in extra-curricular, particularly those I enjoyed or those that helped correct my known weaknesses (i.e. debating to help overcome a fear of public speaking.) My priorities since leaving are largely the same, having focused on academics and targeted career-relevant extra-curricular. However, I’ve placed more emphasis on maintaining a healthy work/life balance.

What are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of my decision to embrace the uncertainty that comes with studying a specialised and nascent field, as it is certainly a more high-risk career path than a conventional engineer. I’m also quite proud of my involvement with UoM aerospace engineering students in developing sounding rockets.

Did you ever stumble? Did you experience strife or fear related to your transition to higher education/work?

I felt a degree of strife when I was nearing the end of my Bachelor of Commerce, as I knew I wanted to work in the Australian space sector, but was uncertain that the sector would develop enough by the end of my further study to offer a viable career. I was fortunate to be able to reach out to people in industry and at the University of Melbourne in gathering info and ultimately making my decision to study aerospace engineering.

What are you excited for now or in the future when it comes to education/work?

I’m excited for the future of the Australian space industry, as I see real potential for Australia to have reliable launch capabilities by the end of the decade and the ability to operate Australian-made satellites. I’m keen to play my part in developing these capabilities and seizing the opportunities that come with doing so.

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