The 26-year-old doesn’t recall solving a problem in school that got her interested in robotics but here she is, today, a lecturer at the Queensland University of Technology.
Forbes-James lecturers in electrical engineering and computer science and has just completed her doctorate. It has been the most challenging thing she has done.
The 26-year-old’s dad Ronnie Forbes is a born Cook Islander, and her mum is from New Zealand. She has represented the Cook Islands a number of times in netball, including last year’s World Oceania Qualifiers in Auckland.
Forbes-James says she was lucky to have been surrounded by supervisors and colleagues that supported and encouraged her.
“I have always enjoyed problem solving which is why I started studying engineering and to help fund my undergraduate degree I started teaching labs and tutorials at the university and discovered I enjoyed teaching engineering.
“Academia is a nice mix of teaching and problem solving and I really enjoy travelling and presenting my work at conferences.”
She says: “My undergraduate degree is actually in robotics engineering and I think it's a really exciting branch of engineering where you actually get to make things.
“Also the emergence of artificial intelligence and deep learning has opened the door for a new way of problem solving.”
Her father, Forbes said he was very proud of his daughter and acknowledged the support the family have given her especially her mum and brother who has played a big part in taking care of Forbes-James.
He said when his daughter decided to pursue her PhD, they thought it was fantastic and did do well.
Forbes-James lived in Rarotonga briefly as a toddler then moved on to New Zealand and Queensland, Australia where she got her education.
He said that Forbes-James enjoys coming to Rarotonga quite often and loves catching up with her grandmother Mataora Forbes who lives in Rutaki.
With the official ceremony taking place next month, Forbes-James says Cook Islanders must find a field that they are passionate about and pursue their dreams.
“The work is difficult but if it's something you enjoy; it makes all the difference.”