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Engineering degree builds on dream to make a difference

Published:19 October 2020

CQUniversity Engineering student Jaiden DeMaid with his sister Krystal.

He’s spent a lifetime tinkering to solve problems, and CQUniversity Mackay Engineering student Jaiden DeMaid is ready to build big solutions, too.

The determined 21-year-old has just completed his Mechanical Engineering degree, and last week presented his final project to fellow students and academics.

Jaiden said the innovative design for a manual wheelchair seat lifting mechanism came from his personal experience.

“My sister, Krystal, developed Functional Neurological Disorder and has been in a wheelchair for the past year. Since we live on a farm with 4WD access, getting her from her wheelchair up into our farm vehicles to bring her home was really difficult,” Jaiden explained.

“I could see that this was having a negative impact on her psychologically, so in a lightbulb moment, I realised that if I could find an easier way to get her up into our 4WD, it would make a world difference for her.”

In developing his wheelchair device, Jaiden designed and tested several digital simulations, and presented his findings to the annual CQU’s GECon™ Graduating Engineers Conference, alongside 42 other soon-to-be graduates.

Jaiden, who attended Mirani State High School before taking on his degree, said his passion for engineering started with his determination to help people.

“Growing up on a farm, I was always taking things apart and putting them back together, and thinking up ideas that would make day-to-day living easier. Things like designing a chicken coop that let us collect the eggs from the outside, or a fruit picker for reaching the highest mangoes,” Jaiden explained.

“But it was going to the Mackay Ooralea campus, and walking into this amazing $16 million Engineering building on my first day, that definitely took things to the next level!”

Within his four-year degree, Jaiden has completed more than 18 months of work placement, including time in manufacturing, mining, and civil industries. Jaiden’s most recent experience included completing a work and study exchange based in Canada.

He rates his Canada experience as a highlight, and said it opened his eyes to the global opportunities that his career can offer.

“It was both really challenging and highly rewarding – my first time living away from home, having to suddenly work in the imperial system rather than metric, meeting new people and making new friends,” he explained.

“I got to experience so many different industries, so many different approaches to life and to engineering practice. It made me realise, that as a professional engineer I would have the ability to pursue the vast array of potential opportunities that may lay before me throughout my career”.

As he prepares to graduate, Jaiden said he’s hoping to work in engineering consultancy, to maximise his experience across a diverse range of projects and skills.

“A big part of my goal as a professional is to try to help people, I would also like to pursue my interests into the development of sustainable energies such as hydro, wind, and solar” he said.

And continuing to support his sister is another big part of the plan.

“She’s achieved so much despite all the challenges that life has presented. She is still planning on studying veterinary science, and has been a real inspiration to me” he said.