Jessica Coldrey

Graduating from Wheelers Hill Campus in 2016, Jessica Coldrey has gone on to fully embrace her differing passions, leading to an already fulfilling and impressive career. Currently completing her Bachelor of Arts (Human Geography) and Bachelor of Visual Arts, with the title of 2021 John Monash Scholar also under her belt, Jess is wholeheartedly dedicated to envisioning and creating a more sustainable future, but not without the incredible insight creativity provides.


Early life at Wheelers Hill

Jess grew up with CGS, spending 14 years of her early life at Wheelers Hill. Her fondest memories from primary school are of inventing stories and imagining new games to play every lunchtime. In high school, she enjoyed exploring the grounds, working in the art studio, and studying novels with friends. Upon entering Year 12, she really embraced the shared sense of empathy, striving and comradery, which motivated her to give each day her all.


Jess owes a lot of gratitude to the person that she was during high school and the lessons she learnt during her time at Caulfield taught her how to persevere through challenges and turbulent times. If she could give her younger self some advice – that your thoughts shape your reality, not your circumstances.



This incredible and diligent young person has already made a lasting impact in her field. Her various intern roles have seen her market solutions for recycled plastic roads, create a memo for a creative recycling initiative to repurpose 320 square meters of vinyl waste, and procure millions of dollars of public artwork. She has presented at the International Conference of Undergraduate Research, the National Transport Research Centre and Society of Plastics Engineers. She is a Youth Advisory Board Member for the Melbourne Science Gallery and is using her 2021 John Monash Scholarship to complete her Master of Humanitarian Engineering with Management at Warwick University, focusing on sustainable infrastructure. She will also be undertaking a residency as a 3D-printing artist in France this year.



A different career pathway

Jess has always held on to the fact that her career doesn’t have to be confined to one singular pathway or passion. She knew from an early age that she wanted to be an artist, but opened herself up to discovering other passions, such as wildlife conversation, writing and coding. She now greatly enjoys combining the creativity of art with the scope of engineering. She credits her decision to go to art school giving her the confidence to leap into a career in humanitarian engineering. She finds that linking these two fields together means that a more innovative, inclusive and beautiful future can be designed, the opportunity to imagine with impact being her favourite part of what she does.


Jess often does find the traditional and male-dominated aspects of her field difficult to navigate, it can be challenging to make her voice heard. She finds advocating for human-centred engineering approaches to be difficult, due to the friction that arises as a result of differing perspectives. However, she is continually inspired and motivated by the female leaders in her industry, and knows hard work is worth it for the potential change it can bring.



She also continues to be influenced by the works of the late artist Edwin Tanner, a structural engineer who helped design the Sidney Myer Music Bowl. He was also a widely celebrated and talented Australian painter. She wishes to emulate his example of combining passions, leading to new and unexpected results, a multi-fold concept for inspiring others into the future.


New Botanic Designs

These days, Jess spreads her time between studying, working in art and engineering, bushwalking, and running her boutique sustainable fashion business New Botanic Designs from home. In her downtime, she focuses on learning, travelling, going to art exhibitions and imagining the future. She enjoys discovering new ideas and opportunities and finding ways to actualise them. Her days usually centre around a sleep in, followed by a café visit, emails, and practising French in preparation for her art residency. Jess loves that she has chosen a career that aligns her passions, as whenever she is presented with opportunities, however unconventional, she is always the most excited person to be there – a quality that people respond to.


In the future, Jess sees herself applying her training in humanitarian engineering management and fieldwork experience in international development to Australia’s infrastructure industry. She plans to use innovative new insights in sustainable infrastructure to help expand the social and environmental benefits of major civil projects.


Want to connect with Jess? You can find her on LinkedIn.


Check out Jess’s website for more!


Interested in what our alumni are doing for the environment and sustainability? Read about Rhianna Knight’s sustainable fashion business here.

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