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Tijana Petrovic and Gongyi Zou Win Macdonald Prizes in Engineering

The Macdonald Prizes in Engineering, made possible thanks to the generosity of Orielensis Patrick Macdonald (1981, Engineering), launched this year and aim to support and nurture academic excellence in Engineering at Oriel. Oriel offers two Macdonald Prizes in Engineering each year. These prizes, valued at £500 each, are awarded to the students who achieve the highest grades in their respective Oriel cohorts in their first- and third-year examinations. The Prizes were organised and awarded by Engineering Fellows Professor Justin Coon and Dr John Huber.

Tijana Petrovic shared her thoughts on her success: ‘I was very surprised and proud of myself for achieving this, it motivated me to put even more effort into the next year.’

Tijana, originally from Serbia, discovered in high school that she ‘preferred practical applications over theoretical knowledge’, which drove her to consider pursuing a career in Engineering. In future, she hopes to further develop her skills to become a Biomedical or Software Engineer.

After achieving a 5.0 GPA in High School, Tijana applied to study at the University of Oxford – a dream of hers since she first read about the University at the age of eleven. Tijana began by ‘talking to people who successfully became students here and asked them for advice.’ She then ‘did a lot of math and physics questions from a variety of books, read a lot of articles and watched YouTube videos about the interviews at Oxbridge.’

Tijana’s advice to people who aspire to study Engineering at Oxford is to develop ‘good problem-solving skills.’ She stresses, ‘A strong basis of knowledge of math and physics is quite important but thirst for knowledge and aspirations to build things and improve systems (and the world) matter even more than technical knowledge’.

This year, Tijana’s research projects were on Verification of Neural Networks and Detection and Mitigation of Effects of Panic Attacks. Next year, she will work on her Master’s thesis, which will be in the fields of Machine Learning and Biomedical Engineering.

Explaining her passion for Engineering, Tijana shares: ‘Doing research and applying theoretical knowledge obtained as a part of my course to find a solution to challenging real-life problems is very satisfying for me. The fulfilment I feel in the moment when I realize that my idea works is truly special.’