Our Science and Engineering students come from a range of academic and personal backgrounds, and end up in a diverse range of positions. Read below about the dynamic experiences and opportunities a selection of our current students and graduates are undertaking.
BE in Materials and Process EngineeringGraduate Process Engineer
Transfield Worley, New Plymouth
Victoria McCullough chose engineering because she wanted to study towards a career that was both academic and practical.
As a Graduate Process Engineer for engineering consultancy Transfield Worley Ltd, Victoria is putting her skills to the test.
“Companies approach us to complete projects for them. This can be anything from design work, through to sourcing components and commissioning the project.”
Although based in New Plymouth, Victoria has worked on projects throughout New Zealand during her time in the company’s graduate programme. Projects have included involvement in the design stage of Marsden Point Oil Refinery’s $365 million expansion and site experience at Fonterra Whareroa, updating the company’s plant drawings. She is currently on a secondment to the New Plymouth office of Origin Energy, an Australian energy company.
BSc(Tech) in Biological SciencesField and Laboratory Assistant
Scion: Forestry Research, Christchurch
Sarah Cross is delighted to be working within a team of entomologists who support the biological control of planted, conservation and urban forests in New Zealand.
“A typical day for me would involve setting up beetle or other insect traps within Southland’s forests. Once the insects have been trapped we collect them and return to the lab to rear them or set them up in experiments.”
“This is my dream job. I get to work with insects every day plus I get to be out in the New Zealand environment seeing new places and meeting new people.”
BE in Materials and Process EngineeringInstrument Technician
Mikita works in the busy inorganic section of Hill Laboratories’ Environmental Division. Here she analyses water samples using high-tech instruments.
“We analyse an extensive range of substances, including drinking water, lake, river and stream water, effluent, sludge and raw sewage. Testing is done for many reasons, such as analysis for resource consents and contaminated sites, plus general monitoring of water ways.”
“The hands-on nature of my engineering degree set me up with practical troubleshooting expertise, an attention to detail and the ability to meet deadlines – all which are vital skills in my current position.”
Originally from India, Mikita came to New Zealand in 2002 and studied at Hamilton Girls’ High School. Her Materials & Process Engineering programme at Waikato included papers in physics, mathematics, computer science, electronics and materials and process dynamics.
During study she enjoyed her work placements, which gave her credit towards her degree. Mikita’s first placement involved working in a research group, studying the use of titanium alloys for orthopaedic applications.
BSc; MSc; PhD in ChemistryTechnical Consultant
Cawthron Institute, Nelson
Jonathan Puddick says the skills he learnt and developed at Waikato come into play on a daily basis in his role at Cawthron Institute.
“I provide advice and support to the routine Food Testing Lab. This involves improving existing routine tests, developing and implementing new tests, mentoring and training technical staff and developing specialised tests for external clients.”
Cawthron provides research, advice and analytical services to support the development of New Zealand’s seafood industry and sustainable management of the coastal and freshwater environment.
BSc; MSc in ChemistryScientist
Scientist Jamie Bridson is researching how we can use biological materials from the forestry industry to create new environmentally friendly products such as biodegradable plastics.
“One of the most exciting things I’ve worked on was a project using extracts from the bark of pine trees. These extracts are great antioxidants, have antimicrobial properties and absorb UV light, so we’re looking to use them in plastics or cosmetics as a substitute for petrochemical additives.”
At Scion, one of New Zealand’s government research institutes, Jamie’s day starts with planning and research then he gets into action in the laboratory. The afternoon generally sees him using high-tech equipment to analyse the results of his day’s work.
“What I love about my job is the wide variety. I can be analysing a sample that’s less than a fraction of a gram or working with tonnes of material for a large-scale pilot plant project. Sometimes I look at the chemical bonding between atoms; other times I’m developing a system to pump hundreds of litres of water.”
He says that important characteristics to have in his role include persistence and being creative, practical and hands-on when solving problems, and he thinks that people who “have a curiosity mindset” would enjoy his work.
“My job may lead to a more senior research position within a research organisation or alternatively my experience would translate well into a career in industry. I could work at a pulp and paper mill, for a plastic or resin manufacturer or in the pharmaceutical industry.”
Profile provided courtesy of Futureintech www.futureintech.org.nz
BSc; MSc in ChemistryManager : Global Water Treatment
Newmont Mining Corporation, Colorado, USA
Six weeks camping in the Andes, 3,000 metres above sea level, is not what typically comes to mind when thinking about a career in Chemistry.
Yet for Waikato graduate Jacob Croall, this is just one of the amazing experiences he has had during his exciting position in Colorado, USA.
Jacob works as the manager of global water treatment for the Newmont Mining Corporation. Here his main tasks include supporting projects and operations in all areas that relate to water; in particular developing treatment systems for process and contact water that comes from the mines.
He says that water is becoming an increasingly important factor for the mining business and there is pressure on compliance criteria from regulators, coupled with increasingly complex ores and processing requirements, and operations that are coming on-line in increasingly challenging locations.
“I work with operations to understand the ore and waste, and how the metallurgical processing requirements might impact water quality and compliance. I also help to develop strategies for water management and treatment. Part of this work involves engineering design, laboratory bench scale and on-site pilot testing of treatment flow sheets, followed by construction and commissioning support.”
As well as his time operating a pilot plant in Peru, Jacob has travelled extensively while with Newmont. From Brazil and Chile, to Ghana, Canada, and France, he has travelled the world learning new ways to solve Newmont’s water problems.
“While at Waikato University my training equipped me with the tools I needed to succeed in the mining industry. The courses were hands on, specific, and relevant, and gave me a solid foundation to build on when I began working. I left Waikato with a good approach to problem solving, real world experience, solid analytical and report writing skills, and a good technical base.”
BSc; MSc in Earth SciencesGeothermal Monitoring Technician
"I love the fact that the Earth is much mightier than us and that however hard we try to tame its resources, everything can change in a heartbeat."
Geothermal energy is said to be the power source of the future and Waikato graduate Holly Goddard is making the most of her opportunity to learn as much as she can about this rapidly expanding industry.
Holly works for MB Century, a company which completes geothermal investigation and development work throughout the North Island. As a Geothermal Monitoring Technician, she spends a lot of time out in the field learning about the electricity generation process, and how geothermal energy is harnessed.
“My job is to monitor groundwater levels, conduct temperature profiles, monitor steam field production and reinjection chemistry, undertake flow testing on geothermal steam pipes and complete stream, spring, river and geothermal feature sampling. All of this work is vital to maintaining the geothermal industry,” says Holly.
Holly says her masters enabled her to develop self-learning skills which have been invaluable in her job to help her think outside the box when problems or new challenges arise.
During her masters study she won an Antarctica New Zealand Scholarship which funded a trip to Antarctica to work on her research. In addition she travelled to Russia to present her research findings at a conference and worked on the search for the Pink and White Terraces in Rotorua.
“Your degree is what you make it. Take every chance and opportunity you are given and it could take you anywhere.”
BSc; MSc(Hons); PhD in Biological SciencesEnvironmental Specialist
Genesis Energy (Huntly Power Station)
Dr Eloise Brown has always been fascinated by water environments and how the biology, chemistry and physics of water shape ecosystems.
“In my role I am a specialist in technical water advice for Genesis Energy. My main task is to help secure and protect access to water, to allow power generation. This involves developing and implementing environmental management processes and providing technical assessments and advice.
“A highlight of my career has been the international travel to remote locations, alongside incredible technical specialists and scientists. Working with great people makes every day at work challenging and exciting.”
Eloise arrived at Waikato University fresh out of Tauranga Girls’ College. She says she chose Waikato due to the excellent reputation of lecturers and wide selection of papers relevant to water ecosystems.
BE in Materials and Process EngineeringMechanical Engineer
Geothermal power is becoming a significant part of New Zealand’s energy resources. As a mechanical engineer with MB Century, Ben Knyvett designs the steam pipelines and equipment for new and existing geothermal power plant projects.
“Increasing the power production capacity of these plants means that we can displace other forms of power production that have greater negative effects the environment. Virtually all the projects I work on are related in some way to increasing the country’s geothermal power output.”
He spends much of his day at his desk completing design work and managing projects. Occasionally he will go out on site to check on the construction and make adjustments to the design.
“It’s very creative. There are countless possibilities when designing a pipeline or piece of equipment from scratch. It’s satisfying to see something I’ve designed get built.”
In addition to strong maths and physics skills, Ben needs to be comfortable working with a wide range of professionals. “You need to be able to work well in a team, as there are numerous people involved in design projects. It’s a very social environment.”
Working in a professional environment has taught him how to manage the practical, everyday details of mechanical engineering.
“Effective time and people management are skills I’ve had to learn on the job. Dealing with several projects at a time can be very challenging, but also extremely satisfying.”
BSc in Earth SciencesGraduate Geologist
Newmont Boddington Gold (Newmont Asia Pacific)
When Waikato graduate Samantha Muir moved to Western Australia to work in Newmont’s Boddington Mine she was thrown in the deep end. Yet Samantha has thrived on the opportunity and is steadily making her mark in what has traditionally been a male-dominated industry.
“As an Ore Control Geologist I work alongside the technical mine services team. Our job is to ensure the day to day mine operations run smoothly to achieve the highest ore recovery possible.”
“My role involves preparing maps for our technicians and geologists. The technicians use the maps to get chip samples from our blast holes to analyse for gold grades. Geologists like myself use the maps to complete lithology mapping through Boddington’s two open cut pits. I use the data collected from these activities in a 3D modelling program for various interpretations and visualisations. After an area has been blasted in the pit the geology team and I are responsible for marking out boundaries between ore and waste and ensuring excavator operators are aware of what they are digging.”
Samantha is a firm believer in creating her own opportunities and it was through a summer holiday programme at Newmont Waihi that she got her break. Following the programme she was offered part time work while she finished her degree, which turned into a permanent full-time position in the company’s two year graduate programme. Due to a restructure Samantha only spent three of the planned 12 months in Waihi, instead being sent to Western Australia to Newmont’s Boddington mine.
“During my BSc the biggest highlight by far was doing fieldwork in the search for the Pink & White Terraces in the summer of 2010. I worked alongside University of Waikato academic staff and scientists from around New Zealand and the world. It was an exciting project, with documentary film crew and local media covering the research.”
Clearly passionate about the outdoors, Samantha also describes the field trips as part of her BSc as fantastic, which included a trip to the South Island to take samples of lake sediment.
A BSc in Earth Sciences is not Samantha’s first experience in tertiary study. As a school leaver she completed a Bachelor of Social Science, followed by a stint of five years working in New Zealand and overseas. She decided to come back to university due to a passion for Earth Sciences and the desire to be trained to work in an industry where she felt job prospects were more favourable.
BE(Hons) in Mechanical EngineeringReliability Engineer
Snowy Hydro Limited
Waikato engineering graduate Michael Eschenbruch has landed on his feet in Australia, working as a Reliability Engineer for Snowy Hydro Limited in New South Wales (NSW).
“Snowy Hydro Ltd is a State Owned Enterprise, similar to Genesis Energy in New Zealand, which owns a large hydro scheme in the Kosciuszko National Park on the border of NSW and Victoria,” says Michael.
The position is part of a new unit in the business, and he says it’s exciting to be part of a team whose role it is to improve on current and future maintenance and design practice.
“I feel very fortunate to be in a job that gives me a great deal of responsibility and accountability so early in my career.”
As a reliability engineer Michael works with all engineering and maintenance groups in the company, developing reliability processes and policies for Snowy Hydro’s new and existing assets such as power stations, dams, tunnels and turbines.
“This all revolves around ensuring we have the most optimal maintenance regime. As a company operating in the electricity market, we need to have reliable assets with minimal down time. Having an optimal maintenance regime means we have the least amount of downtime and costs while keeping our assets in peak condition.”
“Once the policies have been finalised and are in use, I will be travelling around the sites from Melbourne to Sydney to train staff in the policies and work as a facilitator where required.”
“My career aspirations have definitely changed since initially graduating. Originally I was interested in the technical side of things, but I’m now passionate about developing my career in management.”
“In my current role I have to appreciate finance, electricity, environmental, long-term strategies and need to understand what drives a business. I can now comprehend how important the Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) at Waikato University was in learning the knowhow to think and solve problems holistically.”
The St John’s College, Hamilton old boy says this is his third job since graduating from Waikato. His first job was as a graduate engineer with ABB in Hamilton, followed by his first graduate role with Snowy Hydro Ltd as a mechanical engineer.
BSc(Tech); MSc in Biological SciencesCurrent MSc student at Waikato University
Former Hillcrest High School student Ashley Webby chose Waikato because it was close to home and had an excellent range of papers, taught by enthusiastic lecturers.
Ashley began her study with a Bachelor of Science (Technology) majoring in physiology and ecology.
She describes the highlight of her undergraduate study as her work placements, which included working two summers at Waikato University as a research assistant and work experience at Otorohanga Kiwi House.
“I absolutely loved my placement at the Otorohanga Kiwi House, where I was a keeper and raised eight baby kiwi chicks.”
Following her BSc(Tech), Ashley began her Master of Science, which she is currently in the middle of.
“My masters project looks into the toxicity of Rena pollutants to New Zealand fish and shellfish, with help from my supervisors Associate Professor Nicholas Ling and Professor Chris Battershill.”
“It is estimated that 350 tonnes of oil leaked into the environment from the Rena and as most New Zealanders know, the oil spillage had a huge impact on the wildlife and environment in the Bay of Plenty region."
Ashley will use organisms including a range of soft shore and hard shore species including snapper, spotties, crayfish, blue mussels, cockles, Macomona, scallops and flounder in her research. The organisms will be exposed to varying contaminants from the Rena oil spill including Rena heavy fuel oil and corexit 9500 (the dispersant used to disperse the oil). The organisms will then be examined to gauge the extent to which they have taken in these chemicals. She will be looking at how they are affected over different time periods and how long it may take the animals to recover from the toxic effects looking at both lethal and sub lethal impacts.
BSc(Tech) in Earth SciencesEngineering Geologist
Choosing the University of Waikato because of its in-depth focus on Earth Sciences and Environmental Sciences has paid off for a former student of St John’s College Hamilton. Kit Lawrence scored a full-time graduate position with AECOM following an eight month BSc(Tech) work placement.
Kit is currently working as an Engineering Geologist in Christchurch, where he is involved in testing ground conditions under existing and proposed buildings. He then uses the results to recommend suitable foundation options.
“Its’ been a real privilege to be able to help the people of Christchurch get back to normal. The amount of damage there still amazes me and I’m just glad to help.”
Kit has a two year contract with AECOM and, following this, hopes to travel the world with AECOM in order to gain some great experience.
“I would also like to stress that this job opportunity would not have been possible without the help of Waikato University and the BSc(Tech) work placement programme.”
BSc; MSc in Earth SciencesCurrent MSc student
University of Waikato
Growing up in rural Taranaki, Aaron developed an appreciation and passion for the environment. Surrounded by natural energy producers he also gained an enthusiasm for the energy industry, which sparked his interest in the Earth sciences.
Aaron completed a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Earth Sciences and Environmental Sciences, followed by a Master of Science (MSc), which he is currently studying towards.
“Part of my thesis research will involve using industry-standard seismic reflection mapping tools to establish the structure and stratigraphy of sedimentary basin deposits in an area at the southern end of the Hikurangi Trough, east of Cook Straight,” says Aaron.
Following secondary school at Francis Douglas Memorial College in New Plymouth, he chose Waikato University due to the world-class facilities available for students and the exceptional teaching and research regime. He credits the numerous field trips as having been a highlight of his studies, with trips to Huriwai Valley to map stratigraphy and into the Taupo Volcanic Zone, including doing the Tongariro Crossing as part of a third-year Earth Sciences paper.
Aaron recently won the 2012 Brian Perry Charitable Trust Graduate Scholarship in Science and Engineering. The prestigious scholarship will give him $5000 towards his study costs. This is not the first award that Aaron has won. He was awarded the 2011 University of Waikato Shannon Young Award, for being the top overall third-year Earth Sciences student, and also received the Energy Education Trust Undergraduate Scholarship (2011) and the Waikato Geological and Lapidary Club Prize in Earth and Ocean Sciences (2010).
BE in Mechanical EngineeringCurrent student
University of Waikato
Despite the many challenges of going back to university after years in the workforce, current Bachelor of Engineering (BE) student Matt Dromgool is excelling in his new area of study.
Matt initially studied a Bachelor of Teaching at Waikato and spent six years at secondary schools teaching technology and engineering, before ‘biting the bullet’ and returning to full-time study in the University of Waikato’s mechanical engineering programme.
“Not having done calculus before was a big challenge and the fact that I hadn’t done high school maths or physics for about 16 years made the learning curve really steep. Every day things like trying to raise kids, study and pay the bills at the same time is also all more difficult than when I studied the first time around,” says Matt.
For Matt, one of the highlights of the BE so far has been a paid work placement, which is a compulsory part of the degree. Matt’s second-year summer work placement was at RML, a Hamilton engineering firm. He believes part of the reason he was able to get a placement there was due to the quality of the BE at Waikato University. At RML at least four of the current designers at RML are Waikato BE graduates.
“During my placement I got to follow a complete machine from the moment parts started being manufactured, though quality assurance, assembly, testing, client approval trials, breaking down for shipping, reassembling in Australia, commissioning on site, overseeing the first production run and completing client signoff. The highlight was getting sent to Melbourne, to install the machine, train operators and commission the machine in the client’s factory.
Many of these roles involved skills or challenges that were not yet addressed by my degree, but my boss obviously felt that I was capable of completing them. It was also great that the machine I worked on was designed by a Waikato BE graduate.”
Part of the work placement was to write a report on the experiences he had during the experience. Matt received special praise for an excellent report from the Associate Dean of Engineering Janis Swan.
“The engineering teaching staff have been very supportive of me and I was also keen on the idea of a smaller close-knit cohort rather than getting lost in the crowds in bigger engineering departments at other universities.”
In the future Matt would like to end up in engineering design, mixing his research and development skills with the practical side of prototyping his designs.
Catherine Kirby (nee Bryan)
BSc; MSc in Biological SciencesResearch Assistant
Environmental Research Institute, University of Waikato
“Waikato is one of the top universities to study ecology and is surrounded by so many incredible ecosystems.”
A six-month exchange to Canada, a handful of scholarships and excellent support from lecturers were just a few of the things that made study at Waikato an experience of a lifetime for graduate Catherine Bryan.
“My role as a research assistant is very diverse and exciting and I don’t really have a ‘typical day’. Sometimes I arrive at work, jump in a van and head into the field to investigate vegetation patterns in areas such as the Erua, Taranaki and Waipoua forests. Other days I am busy assisting with the Institute’s research programmes, helping MSc students with their thesis research, writing reports and articles, and sharing our research findings through presentations.”
The Environmental Research Institute combines environmental expertise from different areas in the University to work out how we can improve and sustain the quality of New Zealanders' natural and physical environment.
Catherine began her studies with a Bachelor of Science, specialising in Resource and Environmental Planning, and focusing mainly on Earth Sciences. Following this she undertook a Master of Science, where she decided to alter her focus to Biological Sciences.
“For my masters I concentrated primarily on plant ecology, as I felt that this is an area where I could make more of a difference in terms of environmental conservation and restoration.”
BSc(Tech) in ChemistryCarbon Capture Chemist
Aberthaw Power Station, Wales
A University of Waikato graduate is undertaking industry research of carbon capture technology, a technique which can prevent the release of large quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere from major emission sources such as power stations.
Former Fairfield College student Stefan Smith graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Technology) (BSc(Tech)) in chemistry and materials & processing. He’s now working as a Carbon Capture Chemist in Wales, at Aberthaw Power Station.
Stefan got his foot in the door at Aberthaw Power Station through a 12-month work placement that was a compulsory component of this BSc(Tech). He says that his degree gave him the academic and industrial experience he needed to be able to move into this exciting field of research directly from his work placement and was invaluable in giving him contacts within the industry.
Throughout the paid placement Stefan thrived on the challenge of developing the company’s knowledge of carbon capture chemistry and was subsequently offered a full-time job which has given him increased responsibility and the chance to travel to Germany and Canada.
“Carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) is the technology used to prevent the release of large quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere from fossil fuel use in power generation and other industries. The process involves capturing CO2, transporting it and ultimately, pumping it into underground geologic formations to securely store it away from the atmosphere,” says Stefan.
RWE npower, in partnership with Canadian gas absorption company Cansolv Technologies, has invested in a carbon capture and release pilot plant, which will be operated for a two year trial. The plant will research carbon dioxide capture and release processes using a proprietary amine solvent, with the focus on its application to coal-fired power stations and improving the technology’s process and environmental performance.
“Recently I’ve been developing and validating analytical methods and preparing the current laboratory for the upcoming carbon capture plant (CCP). Once the plant is in operation, I’ll be responsible for analysing samples, supervising other analytical chemists assigned to the project and advising the plant’s operators on CCP chemistry.”
PGDip in Materials and ProcessingCurrent Post Graduate Diploma student
University of Waikato
Indian student Josh Livingston says he’s happy to tell his friends that he’s a product of the University of Waikato and he hopes to live in New Zealand permanently.
“Personally I believe New Zealand is one of the most amazing countries, filled with many opportunities for the younger generation such as myself. Hamilton is a great place to live and the beautiful climate and landscapes captured me right from the first day.”
Josh decided to move to New Zealand to study at Waikato University upon completing a bachelors degree in biotechnology in India. Before arriving this year for study, Josh had not visited New Zealand before. He is currently completing a Post Graduate Diploma in Materials and Processing.
“Within Materials and Processing I chose to study protein purification and extraction. So far my papers have given me a clear and practical understanding of the recent technologies that are being used in industry. I’ve also taken papers on bio-processing techniques and biofuels, which have helped to develop my technical knowledge and practical skills.”
Josh has kept strong ties with his Indian culture while living in Hamilton. Social gatherings, prayer meetings, youth fellowships, cricket games and the Waikato Indian Students’ Association all help him to feel more at home.
“Studying at a top university such as Waikato was my long term goal right from my childhood. Here I’ve had the chance to use a wide range of facilities and interact with some amazing teaching staff. From the very first day I’ve been supported by staff in every possible way.”
Josh says he has always admired people who use their skills to improve society and following graduation from Waikato, he hopes to find a job where he can use his skills in this way.
Cathy (Zhi) Liu
PhD in Earth SciencesCurrently studying towards a PhD in Earth Sciences
University of Waikato
Originally from China, Cathy is currently working towards a PhD in Hydrodynamics and Sediment Transport in the Tairua Estuary. Cathy's research involves a substantial field data collection from waves, tidal currents, river flow and suspended sediment concentrations as the basis for establishing a fully calibrated and verified hydrodynamic and sediment transport numerical model of the Tairua tidal inlet on the East Coromandel Coast.
The project includes simulating tidal currents, river inflows, and wave interaction, and on this basis undertaking sediment transport modeling. The model would be calibrated against field instrumentation for water levels, tidal currents, salinity structure, sediment particle size, and wave characteristics. An important purpose of the model is to relate sediment (and/or sand) transport to potential impact on harbor and catchment developments, including the interaction of tides, currents and waves associated with marina development; and simulating potential oil spills.
BE(Hons); ME in Mechanical EngineeringCurrent ME student
University of Waikato
Waikato engineering student William Rohorua says he’s figured out the secret to successful study, and it’s not what you may expect. The key is to know when to take a break.
“I find that when I’m active and healthy physically, I’m prepared mentally when it comes to writing and research. Some of the best solutions I’ve come up with for engineering problems have been when I’m not focusing on the problem at all.”
William is Tongan/Solomon Islander and spent time living in the Solomon Islands, Fiji and Tonga, before moving to New Zealand with his family at intermediate school level. At secondary school level he attended Hamilton’s Fraser High School.
“Currently I have strong connections with both the Tongan and Solomon Island communities here in Hamilton, through family social events,” says William.
He chose Waikato University because he wanted remain close to home, while having the opportunity to put into practise the maths and physics he had enjoyed in high school.
For William, the practical nature of the Bachelor of Engineering (BE) was the highlight of his undergraduate study and helped him to understand the theory taught in the lecture environment. As part of his final year project he worked with NZAgbiz (a subsidiary of Fonterra), where he and a couple of other students worked towards solving a problem the company had at one of their Waikato factories.
William graduated from his Bachelor of Engineering (BE) with first-class honours in 2011 and received a scholarship to return and complete a Master of Engineering. “My scholarship is part of a Marsden Funded project known as the Pacific Island-New Zealand Migrant Survey. I'm currently working on a building-integrated thermal solar domestic hot water system, with the aim of reducing costs and also trying to implement basic control strategies. The hope of this research is that cost effective systems such as the one I'm researching can be implemented throughout homes in New Zealand.”
He was also awarded much appreciated financial support during his undergraduate degree from a Tertiary Achievement in Pacific Ako (TAPA) Award. The TAPA Awards were established by the University of Waikato to encourage Pacific Island students to pursue tertiary studies.
PhD in Electronic EngineeringPhD - Power Electronics
University of Waikato
An ambition to become a research professional in electronics has led Sri Lankan-born Kosala Kankanamge to the University of Waikato.
“I chose New Zealand because it is a safe and stable, peaceful country and an enjoyable place to live due to the wide variety of ethnic communities living side-by-side,” says Kosala.
“I decided on Waikato University, as it’s one of New Zealand’s leading research universities. All the necessary resources required for a PhD in power electronics were available, and all the engineering degrees are well recognised internationally and accredited by professional bodies.”
Kosala is in her third year of her PhD which focuses on analysis of supercapacitor assisted linear regulator (SCALDO) technique. While studying, supportive supervisors and a great laboratory set up have helped her to reach her goals. She plans to complete her studies in several months’ time.
Electronics was Kosala’s first study choice right from the start. During undergraduate level study, she specialised in electronics and telecommunication engineering at University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka.
“Soon after gradation I worked as a Research Engineer in Micro Electronics with Arthur C Clarke Institute of Modern Technologies (ACCIMT); a highly reputed research institute in Sri Lanka.”
Following this Kosala continued her research career at a further technology institute, and then moved to a job at the National Institute of Business Management, Sri Lanka, lecturing electronics-related subjects such as computer technology and computer architecture.
During her time at Waikato, Kosala has published four Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering (IEEE) conference papers, two magazine articles for Power Electronics Technology Magazine (USA), one book chapter for CRC Press, USA and a journal paper for IET Power Electronics Journal. Last November she presented some of her research at the 37th IEEE Industrial Electronics Conference in Australia.
BSc(Tech) in Biological SciencesBSc(Tech) student
University of Waikato
Studying bird life in some of the world’s most beautiful islands was all part of the Waikato University experience for science student Adara Withers.
Adara recently completed a three month paid work placement in French Polynesia, as part of her studies towards a Bachelor of Science (Technology) (BSc(Tech)) at the University of Waikato.
French Polynesian-Kiwi Adara sent her CV to several organisations in French Polynesia seeking work experience and found employment with the Bird Society SOP (Société d'Ornithologie de Polynésie) Manu.
“I spent a month on Tahuata Island, a small island of the Marquesas Archipelago. Here I studied the Marquesas Kingfisher population and spent time learning skills such as bird monitoring, using GPS and taking field notes.”
Adara loved getting to know the locals and learning about their culture. “One of the main things I learnt through my experiences is that a conservation project is not possible without involving the local community.”
As part of the intern position she spent time at the island’s school, teaching students about the birds which inhabit their village. The second two months of her work placement were spent in Tahiti at the SOP office, working on data, maps, report writing and creating articles for the local press.
“I’m currently working towards a restoration ecology focus within my BSc (Tech) and I would really like to continue to work in the conservation and restoration fields in the future, especially island conservation.”
Adara grew up in French Polynesia and her family reside there. After completing secondary school in Tahiti, Adara chose to complete her tertiary study in New Zealand. The University of Waikato’s reputation for conservation and restoration brought her to Hamilton, along with the exciting prospect of the work placements and practical experience that come through completing a BSc(Tech) degree.
BE in Electronic EngineeringSystems Engineer
CTEK Combined Technologies
Mel Slade hit the jackpot when he scored a job at one of New Zealand’s largest automation and integration companies, straight out of his BE degree.
The Whangarei Boys’ High School old boy has found himself involved with exciting projects after just a few months with the company.
CTEK is based in Hamilton and specialises in food and beverage, pulp and paper, and chemical industries. The company provides services to Fonterra, NZ and Australia, Dairy Goat, Ravensdown, and other food and beverage projects with CTEK’s partner SAGE Automation in Australia.
Mel’s main duties fall within the dairy industry, designing software which tells Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) how to manage a process or plant. The PLC allows the machine to use sensors such as temperature and pressure, to control outputs such as motors and pumps. He also designs Human Machine Interface (HMI) software, so people can communicate with the machinery.
These skills were put to use recently, when Mel was involved in the addition of an oil cooler to the gearbox of a roller motor at Fonterra Edgecumbe.
“What I enjoy most about working at CTEK is the new challenges that come with each project and the opportunity to be involved with work at a range of sites rather than working exclusively in an office.”
“Mel has merged well into our organisation and has an excellent future with opportunities in large complex projects both in NZ and Australia. He is showing great technical strength, we are pleased to have attracted him into our organisation,” says Bob Stokes, Managing Director of CTEK.
BSc; MSc in Biological SciencesGraduate/Junior Ecologist
Tonkin & Taylor Ltd
Ensuring high profile infrastructure projects have a minimal impact on the environment is a real buzz for graduate Kieran Miller.
In the field Kieran has enjoyed relocating native skinks and geckos, and working with elite researchers on the ecological implications of a major motorway project in Auckland. In the office a highlight has been creating a translocation plan for tuatara.
Tonkin & Taylor Ltd are an environmental engineering consultancy.
BSc in Earth SciencesGraduate Geologist
New Hope Corporation Ltd, Brisbane
Recent graduate Jessie Sixsmith says that her science degree set her up perfectly for a job in Australia’s booming resources sector.
Jessie is a graduate geologist with New Hope Corporation Ltd, which is headquartered in Brisbane. The company is an independent energy company focusing on coal mining and exploration. Jessie works on the company’s exploration programmes, which sees her working on sites throughout the state of Queensland.
“I’m involved in New Hope’s exploration programme looking for coal in Queensland. This involves working on a drill rig and analysing the rock samples that are collected. I also spend time interpreting geophysical data obtained from the bore holes. My goal is to gain at least two years’ field experience in the coal exploration industry and then move on to the geological modelling side of exploration and mine planning.”
Jessie also said her degree with the University of Waikato was instrumental in her gaining entry into the resources sector in Australia, and being able to follow her passion for earth sciences. She highly recommended her University of Waikato degree as it gave her the foundation in earth sciences and valuable skill sets she needed to confidently undertake her new career.
BSc; MSc in ChemistryInstrument Technician
A passion for chemistry has led Cody Wright to an exciting position with New Zealand’s leading analytical testing laboratory.
Cody works in the routine residues division at Hill Laboratories. He tests a wide range of products for pesticide levels using a suite of high-tech equipment. The recent kiwifruit PSA problem has kept him busy in the lab, testing for residues that are being used to combat PSA, such as the antibiotic drug Streptomycin and the pesticide Actigard.
“It’s rewarding to know that my work ensures the quality of products throughout the world.”
Cody went to high school at Katikati College. He was selected for direct entry into year two chemistry classes at university due to his exceptional grades in Year 13 chemistry.
During his studies he worked on a project which was published in a reputable journal of chemistry. “This subsequently allowed me to receive a summer scholarship, which gave me a head start on my research for the thesis portion of my MSc. Since then I’ve had two more papers published. The MSc really gave me a taste for research and I’d ultimately love to end up in a position where I was able to undertake research and development orientated work.”
BSc(Tech) in Biological SciencesClinical Embryologist
The London Women’s Clinic, Marylebone, London
“I‘m fascinated by the human body and how it works”.
Hearing heart-warming pregnancy success stories from her patients is the ultimate reward for Catherine Charleson, who works in a London fertility clinic as a clinical embryologist.
Everyday tasks for Catherine include working in a lab with oocytes and sperm to create human embryos; interacting and educating patients; and helping women with IVF cycle management.
Following high school at Waikato Diocesan School for Girls in Hamilton, Catherine studied a Bachelor of Science (Technology), majoring in Biological Sciences and specifying in the Biomedical Sciences programme. The programme included papers in physiology, genetics, anatomy and biochemistry.A work placement at AgResearch Ruakura as an embryologist and laboratory technician led her to her first full-time position as a clinical embryologist at Fertility Associates in Hamilton. An aspiration to work overseas took her to London, in mid 2011, where she is now enjoying life in England.
BSc; MSc in Earth SciencesSoil Scientist
Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (DEEDI), Queensland Government
"The practical skills I learnt during study were invaluable for securing a job after graduation."
For Riki Lewis, studying Earth Sciences at Waikato has led to an exciting job as a Soil Scientist with the Queensland Government.
“I travel to beef feed lots to collect soil samples, which we test on site. Currently I’m in charge of running an experiment in which we’re trying to validate a new experimental method against an older, more trusted method.
The validation experiment involves running a machine which analyses greenhouse gasses (GHG) at very low concentrations. I then collect and process the meteorological data.”
The government will use this data to help determine an acceptable level of GHG emissions from feed lots and to set a limit from which farmers will begin to pay carbon tax.
Riki moved straight onto tertiary study following his teenage years at Cambridge High School.
While studying he attended conferences in New Zealand and Australia, which gave him one on one contact with industry – a valuable bonus when looking for jobs later in his career.
As for study advice? “Study what you find interesting. Subjects you are interested in will be more enjoyable and you’ll do better in them. If you’re unsure about anything, just ask. Lecturers and support staff at Waikato are excellent.”
BE(Hons) in Mechanical EngineeringReliability Engineer
Meridian Energy Ltd
Waikato graduate Bayleigh Baird is experiencing the highs and lows of renewable energy – but not in the way you might expect. Climbing wind turbines and venturing underground to hydro stations is all part of the job – a job that she loves every minute of.
“A typical working day could be spent working up an 80 metre high wind turbine on one of our wind farms, 200 meters underground at our Manapouri hydro station, or in our new Christchurch office.”
Bayleigh spent 18 months on a Meridian Energy graduate programme before being appointed to her current position as a reliability engineer. A self-directed role offering support to both the wind and hydro divisions of Meridian Energy, this role involves initiatives to increase plant reliability, optimising maintenance, and monitoring plant condition.
Bayleigh chose to come to Waikato University after attending the Engineering Open Day and meeting with staff. She knew she wanted to work in the renewable energy industry and found she was able to tailor aspects of her degree to work towards that ambition.
With Waikato University’s support, she did a paper that involved completing a project for a major company in the renewable energy industry and also did work experience in the industry as part of her study.
BSc; BSc(Hons) in Materials and ProcessingResearch Officer
Herbal Medicine Research Centre, Institute for Medical Research, Ministry of Health, Malaysia
Exciting research, rewarding work placements and lots of traditional Kiwi adventures were the highlights of student life at Waikato University for graduate Norzahirah Ahmad.
Norzahirah completed a Bachelor of Science majoring in biotechnology and a Bachelor of Science(Hons) majoring in materials and processing at Waikato University. Following her tertiary studies in New Zealand, Norzahirah returned to her home country of Malaysia, where she is now employed as a Research Officer at the Herbal Medicine Research Centre. The centre is part of the Institute for Medical Research (IMR), which is one of the research arms of the Ministry of Health, Malaysia.
“I’m involved in research on local herbs and herb products and evaluating their efficacy and toxicological effects. Much of the work I’m involved in is confidential, which means I can’t go into greater detail,” says Norzahirah.
“The highlight of my job has been meeting people from different fields of expertise and discovering the types of research being done to help improve the wellbeing of Malaysians.”
Norzahirah completed her schooling in Malaysia and received a scholarship from the Malaysian government to complete her tertiary study in New Zealand. She chose Waikato University as her base due to the relaxed campus environment and the proximity of the campus to several large research facilities such as AgResearch and Hill Laboratories.
Norzahirah enjoyed the Kiwi way of life. “I loved travelling around New Zealand and made the most of the New Zealand lifestyle; going camping, fishing and horse riding, and enjoying the beach and summer barbeques. I even managed to do the Tongariro Crossing trek!”
BSc(Tech); MSc(Tech)(Hons) in ChemistryTechnical Service Representative
"My long term goal is to move into a management position where I can still use my chemistry background."
For Waikato graduate Dylan Harrison, a career in science has always been on the cards.
A number of university scholarships and awards, work placements at two leading New Zealand science companies and a masters research collaboration with Fonterra, gave Dylan the competitive advantage when seeking employment.
NALCO is a leading provider of integrated water treatment and process improvement services, chemicals, and equipment programmes for industrial and institutional applications.
“My job involves implementing water treatment programmes for companies such as dairy factories, abattoirs, hospitals and food and beverage manufacturers. My main focus is monitoring chemical programmes on industrial boilers and cooling towers. A typical day would involve travelling to three or four industrial sites. Here I monitor their water treatment programmes and make any changes or recommendations to help optimise the programme based on my onsite test results.”
BSc; MSc in Biological SciencesHead of Science
Food Animal Initiative Ltd
"I'm doing something I absolutely love every day and getting paid for it."
A passion for animal welfare and a PhD at Oxford University has led to two exciting roles at the Food Animal Initiative Ltd (FAI) for Waikato science graduate Ashleigh Bright.
“My main role is as Project Manager for The Model Farm Project – a partnership between FAI and the World Society for Protection of Animals (WSPA). The project is based in China, Brazil and the United Kingdom, setting up farm-based networks as demonstrations of commercially-viable humane and sustainable farming. My second role is as a scientist with FAI. I’m involved in any animal behaviour/welfare research projects on the farm and with commercial industry partners. Our role is between academia and industry, taking the scientific research, getting it working on our farm and then out into the wider world."
FAI have just received a new grant from the government; a Knowledge Transfer Partnership with the University of Reading, for which Ashleigh is the industry supervisor. The three-year project title is 'To develop and embed a method for assessing sustainability of livestock production systems, testing and demonstrating its application by a series of case studies.'
It wasn’t until Ashleigh’s second year at Waikato that she discovered her fascination with animal behaviour. “Originally I was enrolled in marine biology.”
“Keep your options open. What you think you want to do at the beginning of a degree is often not what you want to do at the end. If you come across a subject you find interesting, try it!"
BSc; MSc in ChemistryPhD Chemistry Student
University of Waikato
Waikato University chemistry student Megan Grainger didn't let a few small hurdles stand in her way when it came to her university studies. Following successful undergraduate and masters degrees, this talented student is taking the exciting step up to a PhD.
Megan has a Bachelor of Science (BSc) under her belt and has recently submitted her Master of Science (MSc) thesis for assessment. Always ready for a challenge, she has just started her PhD in Organic Chemistry, studying Manuka honey.
Megan has earned many accolades to her name in her five years at university. She received the award for top chemistry student in her year for three years in a row, was awarded an astounding 10 scholarships throughout the years and presented her masters research at an international symposium in Sydney last year.
Having never studied chemistry or biology at high school due to timetable clashes, the former Hamilton’s Fraser High School student admits her first year in the BSc degree was definitely a challenge. “Because I hadn’t taken the necessary school subjects to be eligible for the BSc, I completed a four-week Science Foundation bridging course to understand the basics of chemistry and biology”.
BSc; MSc in Earth SciencesDevelopment Geologist
Waikato graduate and former Tauranga Boys’ College student Brad Hopcroft is part of the Appraisal Subsurface Team for Chevron, a global energy company.
"I’m currently building geological models for gas fields, offshore in Western Australia. The gas fields I'm working on are part of the Greater Gorgon Project which is one of the world’s largest natural gas projects and the largest single resource natural gas project in Australia’s history.
The best thing about my job is the opportunity to develop my career and move to other Chevron business units around the world for work placements. Chevron currently operates in over 180 countries with a global headquarters in Texas, where I recently gave a presentation on oil and gas exploration in Australia.”
BSc(Tech) in Biological SciencesBiology Teacher
St Peter’s School, Cambridge
Science enthusiast David Gilmour has found his calling as a senior biology and junior science teacher at St Peter’s School in the heart of the Waikato.
Since graduating, David has explored his scientific interests, working as a Field Biologist for Landcare Research followed by an exciting few years as a Mechanical and Electrical Technician for BBC Technologies, working in North America and Australia. While looking for a teaching position, David worked as a Pyrotechnician – a hobby now utilised during St Peter’s School stage productions.
A lot of preparation goes into teaching, especially in a subject like science. “I usually arrive at school at 7am to finish the final preparation for the day, teach from 8.15am - 3.20pm and then prepare for the following day until 5pm. It’s all worth it to see the students excited about science”.
BE in Materials and Process EngineeringPhD Materials & Process Engineering Student
University of Waikato
Talented Waikato engineering student Timothy Walmsley is making the most of his time at university.
While studying towards a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in materials and process engineering Timothy earned a number of prizes and awards. Following his second year at university he was offered the opportunity to join the Metals Research Group in the School of Engineering over the summer break. “As part of my research I travelled to and stayed at Harbin Institute of Technology in Harbin, a city in north eastern China. Although the weather was below freezing, the experience I gained has been very valuable.”
Most recently, Timothy won a University of Waikato Doctoral Scholarship and the Todd Foundation Scholarship in Energy Research. Both scholarships will support Timothy through his three years of study towards a PhD in engineering
“The overall goal of my PhD research is to increase energy efficiency of powder production by recovering energy from hot humid exhaust air streams. In many industries recovering this energy is technically challenging because the air is laden with a small amount of powder. This powder raises concerns of effectiveness, fouling and blockages, which can lead to plant down time. The research will address each barrier, with the goal of formulating a new low fouling design energy recovery exchanger to apply to major New Zealand companies such as Fonterra”.“Once I finish my PhD I’d like to find a position as an engineering lecturer. I enjoy teaching at a tertiary level and I love researching complex problems. In the long term, once I have gained sufficient knowledge, experience and connections to New Zealand industries, I would like to start a consultancy with a focus on energy.”
BE in Mechanical EngineeringMechanical Engineer
Tetra Pak, Hamilton
Michael Betschart spent time in Zambia during his final year at university, using the knowledge from his studies to build shelters and classrooms for children who lived on the streets. Now a mechanical engineer, Michael works in the drawing office at Tetra Pak.
“A normal day usually involves problem solving, drawing and designing dairy processing equipment using 2D and 3D CAD packages, and making construction drawings to send to workshops for fabrication.”
“My degree gave me a solid knowledge base from which to build my career. It also helped me to develop the people skills required to work with the diverse range of people and organisations in the global marketplace.”
BSc(Tech) in Earth SciencesWater Laboratory Technician
SGS Minerals, Waihi
From the young age of five, Stacey Walsh wanted to be a scientist. Now a Laboratory Technician at SGS Minerals, she has fulfilled that ambition.
“Every day we receive water samples into our lab which need testing for things such as heavy metals, pH, ammonia levels and turbidity. The samples are prepared, tested and a report is created and sent to the client. I also make up any solutions that we need in the lab or which external clients require.”
“One of the highlights of my job so far has been learning how to use different instruments. I’ve been lucky enough to use an ICP-MS (Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer) and an AA (Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer).”
BSc(Tech) in Environmental PlanningHydrogeologist
Sinclair Knight Merz Ltd, Auckland
"No project is ever the same ... that’s what makes the work so interesting."
A degree focusing on resource and environmental planning gave Vanessa Brown the science background, management skills and ethical insight needed for an exciting career as a hydrogeologist.
The former Havelock North High School student works within the Water Resources division at Sinclair Knight Merz Ltd (SKM), a global engineering, science and project delivery firm. She was offered the position following a successful work placement as part of the BSc(Tech) degree.
“Our work is all about finding and providing sources of water to those who require it, without having adverse effects on the environment.”
“I’m involved in many facets of water resource science and management. My main area of focus is in groundwater projects. In a typical project I will be involved in technical desktop studies, scoping and implementation of field investigations, technical analysis and reporting, preparation of resource consent applications, assessment of environmental effects reports and project management.”
BE in Mechanical EngineeringMechanical Design Engineer
RML Engineering, Hamilton
"Watching my designs come to life is a real highlight."
From a childhood spent playing with Lego and tinkering with remote control cars, to teenage years spent fixing his own car, Varun Dennis describes his choice to study Mechanical Engineering as a natural progression.
While at Waikato University Varun took advantage of the WESMO (Waikato Engineering Student Motorsport) team. “WESMO provided me with the initial exposure to the practical side of engineering. I really enjoyed the challenge of building an open-wheeler race car with a good bunch of mates.”
“I’m currently part of a team that designs end-of-line automation solutions to a wide range of clients. My main duties involve designing concepts on SolidWorks (a computer program used for design), developing them into components and creating final drawings ready for manufacture.”
“I’m trying to absorb as much as I can as a design engineer, in the hope of progressing into engineering management in the future."
BSc(Tech) in Earth SciencesEnvironmental Scientist
AWT New Zealand Ltd
“During my time at AWT I’ve been involved in a wide variety of projects covering the multidisciplinary field of earth/environmental science and resource management. This variety ensures that in general no project is ever the same and no day could be classified as typical by any means. I’ve got no regrets in regards to my career choice.”
BSc; MSc in Biological SciencesContractor (Bay of Plenty Regional Council), Technical Officer (The University of Waikato)
Joe Butterworth enjoys a variety of roles in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty, and believes life is all about having the right attitude and following what you’re most passionate about.
“As a contractor for the council I draft biodiversity management plans for private land owners, who are passionate about protecting the environment. It’s great being able to contribute to Tangata Whenua environmental aspirations.”
“I’m also involved in a Waikato University research project to monitor and restore the quality of Rotorua’s lakes; a position made possible through the contacts I gained at university.”