Meet the Team

Sandra Harrison

Sandra Harrison - Student Opportunities Manager

Sandra is a passionate advocate for education and project-based learning. She is a strategic leader with extensive culture change experience in the private and education sector. As the creator of The ChallENG Program, Sandra is in charge of the overarching operations and growth of the program with the goal of connecting students, academics and industry to work together to solve real-world problems.    

Sandra worked in journalism for 17 years, where she was the Managing Photo Editor of Visuals at the Sydney Morning Herald. She was the mastermind behind Clique, a strategic project that saw the development of an amateur photographers club.

Moving across to the education sector in 2014, Sandra brought her skills in content creation, project management, marketing and events management. At UNSW, Sandra has steered major projects such as Student Projects, the Women In Engineering campaign #MadeByMe, Makerspaces and The Maker Games

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Sami Kara

Professor Sami Kara - UNSW Vertically Integrated Projects Program Director

Sami Kara is a Professor at the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, and Director of UNSW’s Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP).

Sami is the founder and academic-in-charge of the Sustainable Manufacturing & Life Cycle Engineering Research Group and the Co-Director of the Joint German-Australian Research Group on Sustainable Manufacturing.

Since joining UNSW in 2001, with a long track record in industry, he has been involved in various administration roles in the School and the Faculty, while maintaining a very high standard of teaching and research.   

Sami’s passion and commitment for teaching and supervision has been recognised by the Vice-Chancellor, receiving three awards for his teaching.

Sami is an elected fellow of the Royal Society of New South Wales and the International Academy of Production Engineering (CIRP). 

Stephanie Bagnell

Stephanie Bagnell - Manager, Student Projects and Social Impact Projects

Stephanie’s role within The ChallENG team is to provide strategic guidance and scalability to the portfolio of Student and Social Impact Projects. In this role, she encourages cross-collaboration among the teams through themed hub development and academic mentoring, while providing the opportunity to embed the projects into curriculum coursework or industrial training.  

Stephanie is experienced in strategic project management, with a demonstrated history of working in the higher education industry. She has a strong background in business development, market research and strategy, leadership management, communications and industry engagement. She graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration focused in marketing from Cape Breton University in Nova Scotia, Canada.  

Stephanie received various awards for her community engagement, academic, and leadership qualities during her time at the Cape Breton University and through National outreach and fundraising organisations such as Cystic Fibrosis Canada.

Stephanie’s experience has taken her to three different continents - North America, Europe and Australia. Embracing different cultures and international engagement through a borderless world is something that she holds a strong passion for!

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Kevin Duquette

Kevin Duquette - Manager, Industry Engagement and The Maker Games

Kevin is the main industry point of contact for The ChallENG Program. He manages the operations of the Australian Financial Review’s award-winning program, The Maker Games, and is the Faculty Liaison for Industry-led Thesis and Student-Initiated Projects. 

Kevin’s industry experience ranges from professional and collegiate sports, to the oil and energy sector.

He brings a unique higher education experience as the former Director of Orientation for his alma mater Wilfrid Laurier University (Waterloo, Canada). He also held the position of Regional Director for ‘Shinerama’, Canada's largest post-secondary fundraiser in support of Cystic Fibrosis. 

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Laura Kesley

Laura Kelsey - Student Opportunities Support Officer

Laura coordinates the administrative processes that support the academics within The ChallENG program. Laura provides ongoing support and advice to students on project suitability, admission and curriculum mapping. She manages student progression, assessment records, and supports the development and delivery of the Professional Skills program.

Laura has experience in coordinating and managing key academic operations within a tertiary institution. She has worked in vocational and higher education and has demonstrated experience in project management, business operations and management, and strong leadership and communication skills.

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Melinda Wimborne

Melinda Wimborne - Makerspace Network Manager 

Melinda is an experienced maker and designer across many disciplines ranging from artisan to digital. She ran the Architecture Works at The University of Sydney for over five years and taught Design. Before this, she worked on the shop floor as a master cabinet maker for over two decades and has degrees in both Art & Design and Architecture.  

While at The University of Sydney, she overhauled the fabrication workshops to be in line with industry expectations, introducing digital fabricating equipment such as CNCs, 3D printers and laser cutters. 

Melinda originally joined UNSW to establish the Michael Crouch Innovation Centre’s Makerspace and has been building and developing a network of connected workshops and maker spaces across UNSW ever since. 

Her wide-ranging fabrication experience, and passion for making, has seen UNSW Engineering become a national leader in student-facing workshops and project-based learning.

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