Laura Hodges is at home with robot arms, electronics, and complex mathematics.
The Castle Hill resident, 20, was awarded a Defence Science and Technology Organisation scholarship to study mechatronic engineering and computer science at the University of NSW.
"All the way through school I liked science and wanted to go into computers and robotics, so doing engineering with science seemed like a good way to get into that field," she said.
"There are just so many possibilities with robotics. With nanorobotics there are medical applications for that too."
Miss Hodges attends uni five days a week and tutors high school students in mathematics and chemistry when not working on extracurricular projects that include an autonomous land vehicle to travel through a maze, avoiding obstacles.
"I find the engineering part of my degree is a lot of maths and pretty much every subject that isn't maths has maths in it," she said.
"Mostly I'm applying the knowledge in extracurricular projects.
"The scholarship helps. It takes a bit of the pressure off every time I get a fee statement and it means I could possibly move closer to uni, which would make a big difference."
Miss Hodges said the scholarship of $10,000 a year would also allow her to take on summer research projects with the Defence organisation.
"It would be good to get experience working for them," she said.
"The projects change all the time . . . They're working on an underwater autonomous robot, which looked pretty interesting."