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Alumni in Focus: Louise Thomas

Co-founder and mechatronics engineer at Tensorfield Agriculture, Augustus Short Scholarship recipient and Bachelor of Engineering graduate Louise Thomas is this month’s Alumni in Focus. Tensorfield Agriculture is a startup dedicated to providing farmers with the next generation of agricultural machinery.

Louise’s business endeavours have taken her worldwide. She currently lives between Shenzhen, China, where she does most of her engineering development work, and California, USA where many of the company’s customers are located.

What are your favourite hobbies?
I love getting outdoors and playing sports – cycling, skiing, tennis, lacrosse, you name it…

Favourite place to eat when in Adelaide?
Cooper’s Alehouse. Finding a decent schnitzel is surprisingly hard overseas.

If I could go back to my University days I would…
Make the most of all the opportunities that the University offered, as well as enjoy being able to hang out with friends all the time. After graduating it became a lot harder to keep in touch since everyone dispersed into different jobs and locations.

Most prized possession?
This is a tough one. I’ve basically been living out of a suitcase for the past year, but what I’ve kept is mostly just clothes (nothing that I place that much value on). So, I think my most prized possession would be the skills and friendships I’ve acquired over the years.

Something that makes you smile?
Living in Shenzhen, funny English translations are a constant source of amusement.

Something you are grateful for?
The opportunity to live and work around the world with smart and inspiring people that I enjoy hanging out with.

If I could pursue a different career I would…
Do anything that would let me travel the world solving interesting problems.

The most valuable lesson I have learned…
There’s nothing wrong with looking like an idiot when trying something for the first time… or even the 100th time.

I cannot get through the day without…
Feeling like I’ve accomplished something and listening to awesome music.

Three words your closest friends would use to describe you?
Enthusiastic, adaptable, resourceful

Your definition of success?
Feeling fulfilled by what you’re doing, whatever it might be.

My mother taught me…
Be kind to other people. In my experience, there is very little in life that doesn’t rely on people cooperating and helping each other, and people are more likely to help you when you’ve been nice to them.

Your career path in two sentences or less?
Grew up on a farm longing to see the world, studied engineering in Adelaide and Vancouver, travelled around the world to engineer solutions to farming problems.

Biggest career highlight?
Co-founding Tensorfield Agriculture to create robots that will help alleviate labour shortage issues for vegetable farmers.

2019 is the year I will…
Try to learn conversational Mandarin. I’ve been living in China for almost half a year and I still barely know a word.

How do you relax?
I guess the only ‘relaxing’ thing I do is chatting with friends over a few beers, though I find it much more revitalising to get my blood pumping by playing sports or exercising.

When I get home the first thing I do is…
Kick off my shoes and flop onto my bed.

A misconception about you?
That I don’t need a lot of sleep to function. That might have been true during my university days, but now I’m pretty useless if I’ve had less than six hours of sleep.

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