One family’s 12 decade-long association with the University of Sydney recently added another significant chapter, symbolised by a single mortar being flung into the air.
The cap in question belonged to Faculty of Engineering and IT graduate Jacqueline Madsen, who was celebrating having obtained her well-earned Bachelor of Engineering Honours (Electrical) degree on 5 May.
By doing so, she became the fourth generation of Madsen lineage to celebrate their graduation from the University, a tradition started in 1900 by her great-grandfather, the late Sir John Percival Vissing Madsen (1879–1969).
Sir John Madsen, the highly regarded physicist and engineer, initially graduated from the University with a Bachelor of Science degree and the University Medal in mathematics in 1900, before completing his Bachelor of Engineering, this time with first-class honours and again the University Medal a year later.
He became an academic at the University in 1909 before detouring to serve his country as the chief trainer of engineering during World War I. Upon his return in 1920, Sir John became the foundation professor of electrical engineering, now known as the School of Electrical and Information Engineering.
His name is emblazoned on the heritage-listed sandstone Madsen Building located within the Camperdown campus, which is today home to the School of Geosciences.
"Electrical engineering is something that has been in the family for a long time and I'm proud of that legacy," says Jacqueline.
"He was very influential in starting up electrical engineering at the University and his name can be seen in many places throughout the campus including the Madsen Building, which was always pointed out to me.
"I had several physics-related lessons within the building, so I enjoyed spending time in the building myself. Additionally, the main lecture theatre within the electrical engineering building is also named after him, and is a place I spent a great deal of time throughout my degree."
Jacqueline is now utilising her electrical engineering degree to solder her own career and is currently working as a Graduate Electrical Engineer for BHP Billiton.
Based out of central Queensland, Jacqueline initially joined the multinational mining, metals and petroleum company on a student industry placement while completing her undergraduate degree, majoring in Power Engineering and including several project management subjects.
The Duke of Edinburgh Gold Medal recipient is currently based onsite in a fast-paced project management team, combining her engineering and project management knowledge to create improvements and increase efficiency.
"Working within the project management team allows me the opportunity to travel the region and observe how BHP Billiton as a business functions and how best to answer problems that may arise," says Jacqueline.
"My role allows me the flexibility to apply the stakeholder management and communication skills learnt in my project management subjects, such as when I need to coordinate work crews across different sites, as well as the more technical skills learnt in my electrical engineering degree."
Jacqueline is a firm believer in following passion and encouraging others to follow suit, with hers lying in efficiency and problem solving.
"I believe my great-grandfather had the same mindset and his vast array of accomplishments and deserved recognitions are testament to that."
More women than ever are choosing to study engineering and computing undergraduate degrees at the University of Sydney.