"I found myself and my purpose studying abroad," by Ella Brodt

Ella Brodt (BSEEE 2024) shares her experience studying abroad at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia during the Spring 2023 semester.

"I found myself and my purpose studying abroad in Australia"
Written by Ella Brodt

Living in another country on the opposite side of the world allowed me to find myself and my purpose.

I chose EEE because my goal is to implement sustainable building strategies into cities experiencing the Urban Heat Island Effect (UHI). This occurs when urbanized areas become “islands” experiencing higher temperatures than outlying areas. Sydney is the perfect location to study this firsthand; I was able to observe the unique environmental solutions and adaptations that Australia has taken to remediate the UHI effect in an already hot climate.

Watch a video of Ella Brodt highlighting her study-abroad experience. Copyright Ella Brodt 2023. 

My primary focus was on “living architecture,” which integrates living systems on or within a building envelope. I learned how green roofs, living walls, and green facades can aid in the reduction of UHI effects. Implementing living architecture strategies to decrease the impact of UHI is a potential future career path for me.

I also studied ecology, the risks and impacts of climate change, and topics in Australian marine science, all of which helped me to increase my understanding of how Australia is impacted by global environmental changes. For my ecology course, we collected data on invertebrates at two of Sydney’s parks and compared the diversity, richness, and relative abundance of invertebrates between the two areas in order to conclude which ecosystem is healthier and more functional. This allowed me to apply my EEE classroom knowledge to real-world environments with which I was unfamiliar.  

Traveling outside of Sydney via bus, train, or plane was easy, allowing me to take a multitude of trips. My favorite destination was the Great Barrier Reef, which I have dreamed of visiting since I was a kid. I went scuba diving along the reef and saw an abundance of wildlife. I also visited Melbourne and Jervis Bay, where I was able to watch dolphins swimming at sunrise from the beach.

I never thought I would be able to balance an engineering degree and studying abroad, but I was wrong. This was the opportunity of a lifetime, and I am grateful to Purdue EEE for providing funding assistance. I discovered a new love for travel, enriched my environmental expertise, and had so many unforgettable experiences.

Ella cheers on The New South Wales Waratahs rugby team at a match.