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Student and Graduate Profiles

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.


Elizabeth Geddes

Elizabeth Geddes

BE(Hons) in Chemical and Biological Engineering

Current Student

"Work experience meant I could apply all the theoretical knowledge I had learnt at uni, to exciting real-life engineering situations."

Elizabeth Geddes is making her mark on campus, as this year’s president of the University of Waikato’s Young Engineers Society. 

“I chose to study engineering at Waikato because I was able to combine the biological and chemical disciplines of engineering, as well as maths and physics, into one exciting degree.”

The former Whangarei Girls’ High School student is also chair of the Student Engineers New Zealand student council, showing just how passionate she is about the industry and leadership. 

While studying Chemical & Biological Engineering, Elizabeth has enjoyed the work placement component of the degree and describes it as a highlight of her studies. 

“Work experience meant I could apply all the theoretical knowledge I had learnt at uni, to exciting real-life engineering situations and has given me a clearer idea of what I want from my career as a professional engineer.”


Simon Williams

Simon Williams

BSc; MSc in Chemistry

Research Assistant
Hawaii Natural Energy Institute

The long term goal is for small communities like those in Hawaii to be able to turn locally produced biomass such as macadamia nut shells, into biocarbon.

Just three weeks after handing in his masters thesis, University of Waikato chemistry graduate Simon Williams was on a plane to Hawaii. 

Since that day two years ago he has worked as a research assistant at the University of Hawaii’s Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI), in the Renewable Resources Research Laboratory (R3 Lab). The R3 Lab is a test-bed for the development of innovative technologies and processes for the conversion of biomass into fuels and other products.  

Simon has been involved in the laboratory’s work on Flash Carbonization™ and studying the thermochemistry of biomass conversion via pyrolysis into biocarbon (charcoal). 

“Flash Carbonization™ involves the ignition of a flash fire at elevated pressure in a packed bed of biomass. The elevated pressure, allows the fire to quickly spread through the bed, converting the biomass to biocarbon. High carbon yields can be achieved in as little as 20 or 30 minutes. By contrast, conventional charcoal-making methods take from eight hours to several days,” says Simon.

The long term goal is for small communities like those in Hawaii to be able to turn locally produced biomass such as macadamia nut shells, into biocarbon. The biocarbon can be used as a fuel to replace imported fossil fuels, or in agriculture for soil beneficiation and carbon sequestration. 

Simon works on a number of projects running in the lab, with a focus on the chemical analysis of the gases produced in the experiments. “I run a piece of equipment called a Micro GC, which is a specialised miniature gas chromatograph used to measure the composition of the gases from our carbonisation experiments.”

He says his Bachelor of Science (BSc) and Master of Science (MSc) degrees set him up well for his role. “I learnt a lot about various instruments and instrument support which is a significant part of my job now.” 

As a school student Simon attended Tauranga Boys’ College and got a head start on university, by completing two level 100 papers at Waikato University while in Year 13. This made the transition to tertiary study easier and allowed him to complete some 200 level papers in the first year of his BSc.


Kirsty Kraakman

Kirsty Kraakman

BSc in Chemistry & Biological Sciences

Current Student

“The knowledge of the lecturers at Waikato is amazing. Everyone is so willing to share their experiences and encourage students to get into research and make the most of their degree.” 

Making new discoveries in science is the ultimate goal for student Kirsty Kraakman. 

Kirsty is in her final year of a BSc majoring in chemistry and biological sciences and says study at the University of Waikato is full of opportunities. 

“The knowledge of the lecturers at Waikato is amazing. Everyone is so willing to share their experiences and encourage students to get into research and make the most of their degree.” 

She has especially enjoyed learning about genetic modification of bacteria, and found working on the genetic sequencing of her own genome to be a highlight.

The former Sacred Heart Girls’ College, Hamilton student aims to move on to research following undergraduate study and hopes that, in time, she can make a real difference in society. 


Mahonri Owen

Mahonri Owen

BE(Hons) in Mechanical Engineering

Current Student

I really enjoy being in the position to help people

With the goal of becoming an engineering consultant, Mahonri Owen is making a conscious effort to make the most of this time at university.

Mahonri is in the final stage of his Bachelor of Engineering (Honours), before starting a Masters of Engineering later this year. 

Following schooling at the Church College of New Zealand, he began his degree in 2007, before taking a break for two years to complete a church service mission in South Africa. Mahonri returned to study in 2010 and says he is loving life as a mechanical engineering student. 

One of the two work placements during his degree was within the University of Waikato’s Energy Research Group. “My work included 3D CAD modeling, welding, designing and using ultrasonic equipment,” says Mahonri.

He is also part of the Maori mentoring programme within the Faculty of Science & Engineering. “I really enjoy being in the position to help people.” 


Ryan Lee

Ryan Lee

BSc; MSc in Earth Sciences

Current Student

“I’m really interested in geology and geochemistry, and I’m hoping that an MSc will help me to gain a top job in a geology company.”

The opportunity to spend plenty of time getting hands-on experience in laboratories and out in the field made Waikato University’s BSc the ideal choice for Ryan Lee. 

“Many of the field trips took me to exciting places which I would never previously have had the opportunity to visit, ranging from volcanoes to the inside of hydroelectric dams and power stations.”

During his undergraduate degree, Ryan learnt about a range of Earth Sciences-related topics, including soils, volcanology, geology, engineering geology, environmental monitoring, geochemistry, geographic information systems and hydrology.

The enthusiasm he developed for the subject drew him back for a Master of Science, which he has just begun. Within his masters he’s studying a variety of Earth science related papers as well as some chemistry and GIS papers.

“I’m really interested in geology and geochemistry, and I’m hoping that an MSc will help me to gain a top job in a geology company.” 

Ryan says his BSc has already helped him to gain science-related work. “Over summer I worked in a lab where I used X-Ray Fluorescence Spectroscopy to undertake chemical analyses of rock samples.”

A former Thames High School, Ryan chose to study at Waikato because of the university’s great reputation and its close proximity to his home town. 


Billy Bodger

Billy Bodger

BSc; MSc in Earth Sciences

Current Student

“The flexible BSc course structure and passionate lecturers have allowed for more one-on-one time with staff and more feedback on assignments. I believe I wouldn’t be where I am today without that additional help.”

Small class sizes, enthusiastic lecturers and field trips to exciting North Island locations has made Earth Sciences study at Waikato a top experience for student Billy Bodger. 

Billy completed a BSc in Earth Sciences before beginning an MSc last year, with a focus on geology. 

“The flexible BSc course structure and passionate lecturers have allowed for more one-on-one time with staff and more feedback on assignments. I believe I wouldn’t be where I am today without that additional help,” says Billy.

Some memorable field trips have included a six day excursion to the Hawke’s Bay for a sedimentary geology paper and a trip to the GNS Science Wairakei Research Centre for a volcanic geochemistry paper.

“Both of these field trips and all the other practical activities and applied research I have undertaken at Waikato have given me a valuable insight into the tasks that I could expect to encounter in industry. I have no doubt that these experiences will give me a head-start career-wise.”

A School of Science Masters Research Scholarship in late in 2013 helped kick-start Billy’s masters study. Now he’s looking forward to using Waikato’s excellent laboratory facilities when he begins the research portion of his degree. 

“Whether you know exactly what you want to study or are still undecided, once you are here at the University of Waikato, so many doors open for you and the opportunities are endless. Just go for it.”


Beth Scarrow

Beth Scarrow

BSc in Earth Sciences and Biological Sciences

Current Student

“I’m currently looking into completing postgraduate study next year at Waikato University, either with the Coastal Marine Group or within the area of soil sciences."

Attendance at the Hill Laboratories Waikato Science Summer School in 2010 gave Beth Scarrow the perfect opportunity to scope out the University of Waikato. Her positive experiences at the Summer School, coupled with the close proximity of Hamilton to her home town of Katikati and the lower cost of living compared to the big city campuses, cemented her decision to study at Waikato. 

Throughout her BSc degree, Beth has particularly enjoyed the field trips, as part of her Earth sciences papers, with a trip to explore the Tongariro power scheme as part of a second-year hydrology paper being a highlight. 

Another exciting project was the summer research scholarship which she completed during the 2013/1014 summer break, in the benthic flow lab. 

“The benthic zone is the bottom surface of an aquatic environment. The benthic flow lab is used to study how currents and flows interact with organisms in this zone and with the surface itself.”

“I worked on the benthic wave flume; a slender channel-shaped tank with an e-design wave maker at one end, which allows the interaction of waves with the benthic zone to be studied in a controlled setting.​ Primarily I was testing out brand new equipment and working to improve the construction of parts of the wave flume.”

Beth says the scholarship gave her a real insight into field work and the exciting world of research. 

“I’m currently looking into completing postgraduate study next year at Waikato University, either with the Coastal Marine Group or within the area of soil sciences."


Tom Petchell

Tom Petchell

BE(Hons) in Mechanical Engineering

Current Student

“Waikato University offered both a cheap place to live, and a well-recognised and respected degree."

Choosing to undertake tertiary study is a big decision, and not one that engineering student Tom Petchell took lightly.

Following his final year at St John’s College in 2010, Tom wasn’t sure which direction he wanted to take, so found work for a year in the hospitality industry. In 2011 he decided his future lay in engineering, and undertook NCEA Level 3 calculus via correspondence, to enable him to meet the entry requirements for a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours).

“Waikato University offered both a cheap place to live, and a well-recognised and respected degree. On top of this, Waikato offered smaller classes and therefore more access to lecturers.”

Tom says that the model boat design competition in his first year of study, when the School of Engineering comes together for race day was a definite highlight. He also emphasises the numerous other non-academic activities on campus, including speed-interview nights, O week events, clubs days and more.

He urges others to also think carefully about study following school. “Don’t come to university just for something to do.  If you are unsure what path you want to choose, go away, think about it, earn some money, decide, and then come and find out what Waikato can do for you, because the chances are good that they offer an excellent course in it.”


Nisha Fernandez-Ritchie

Nisha Fernandez-Ritchie

BSc in Chemistry

Current Student

“It’s great being able to study subjects that I love in such a friendly and intellectually stimulating environment"

For Nisha Fernandez-Ritchie, the choice to study at Waikato University seemed like an obvious one. With both her parents having worked at Waikato, she says she “pretty much grew up on campus”. 

“This familiarity made the whole transition from Sacred Heart Girls’ College, to university a lot less scary. I also found the flexibility of my degree very appealing as it means that even though I’m doing a Bachelor of Science majoring in chemistry, I can also pursue my interests of music, physics and maths.”   

“It’s great being able to study subjects that I love in such a friendly and intellectually stimulating environment, surrounded by great people from New Zealand and around the world.”


Justine Kennedy

Justine Kennedy

BSc in Biological Sciences

Visitor Centre Coordinator
Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust

“Working so closely with stunning New Zealand native wildlife is a highlight of my job. My degree in biology was hugely helpful in securing this position. Not only had I proved myself in biology, but I had also demonstrated that I have perseverance, problem solving abilities and communication skills.”

Bachelor of Science graduate Justine Kennedy is making the most of her position at Maungatautari Ecological Island, which she believes will open doors to exciting future opportunities.
 
Justine majored in Biological Sciences, but also completed environmental science, environmental planning and geography papers.
 
The Maungatautari Ecological Island, just south of Hamilton, provides 3400 hectares of protected habitats where mammalian predators have almost completely been eradicated. This provides a sanctuary for the replenishment of native bird populations and native plants.
 
“Working so closely with stunning New Zealand native wildlife is a highlight of my job. My degree in biology was hugely helpful in securing this position. Not only had I proved myself in biology, but I had also demonstrated that I have perseverance, problem solving abilities and communication skills.”
 
Justine is responsible for the smooth running and continued development of Manu Tioriori Visitor Centre at Sanctuary Mountain – Maungatautari. Her main duties are to assist visitors, keep the Visitor Centre clean and tidy, run the small retail shop, assist with marketing and coordinate events.
 
“A typical day involves liaising with the public about their visit, with the marketing manager about upcoming promotions and events, and with the administration manager about general running of the project and Visitor Centre. I also take guided tours and feed kaka twice a week.”


Ollie van Woerden

Ollie van Woerden

BE(Hons) in Materials and Process Engineering

Current Student

“At Waikato the lecturers are excellent and we get to do a lot of practical lab work and challenging group design projects.”

Researching the complexities of turning bloodmeal into bioplastic, alongside top engineering academics, has been the task for materials and process engineering student Ollie van Woerden. 

The project was part of a summer research scholarship, completed in addition to his Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) degree. 

“At Waikato the lecturers are excellent and we get to do a lot of practical lab work and challenging group design projects.”

As a Hamilton Christian School student, Ollie chose to study at Waikato for the specific programme of Materials and Process Engineering, which is unique to Waikato University, and because he wanted to remain close to home. In the future he hopes to work in the field of industrial processes or materials development. 


Ron Xavier

Ron Xavier

PhD in Biological Sciences

Scientist, Food Assurance & Meat Quality, Food & Bio-based Products
AgResearch, Palmerston North

“Working in this industry involves concise reporting of findings that may be complex in nature. Tailoring the language and presentation of findings to non-scientist audiences is a part of my job I really enjoy"

While studying for a PhD at the University of Waikato graduate Ron Xavier discovered a passion for communicating complex science to the public. 

Thanks to the collaborative work he completed during a University of Waikato Doctoral Scholarship in microbiology, Ron is now employed by AgResearch in Palmerston North.   

His team is currently working towards understanding the risks of global emerging foodborne pathogens with the goal of determining their potential impact on the safety of New Zealand foods.  

“Working in this industry involves concise reporting of findings that may be complex in nature. Tailoring the language and presentation of findings to non-scientist audiences is a part of my job I really enjoy,” says Ron. 

In addition to his day job, Ron is also dedicated to actively promoting the awareness of China as an export opportunity within New Zealand’s science community. Ron has recently been heavily involved with the Sino-New Zealand Youth Exchange Programme. Ron was one of five leaders selected to participate in the exchange programme as part of a joint venture between the Asia New Zealand Foundation the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries. The programme aims to solidify the foundation of Sino-New Zealand bilateral relations. 

Also earlier this year, Ron was selected as a New Zealand Young Ambassador for the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), which involved visiting the US and meeting with an extensive network of science leaders within academia, industry and science. 

“I’m currently working with the ASM and the US Association for Advancement of Science (AAAS) Policy Fellowship to start a programme in New Zealand for early-career scientists to engage and work in government organisations to make a bigger contribution to the society as a whole.”

At AgResearch one of the highlights for Ron has been the opportunity to present his research team’s capability to the AgResearch board.  

“It was an interesting experience preparing a concise and easy-to-understand presentation to showcase the historical and future work of the team, with particular focus on the relevance of our work to the food industry.” 

His advice to current students is to actively participate in post-graduate activities, particularly the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition, which spurred his personal passion for making science palatable and relevant for audiences outside of the science community.


Ashleigh Weatherall

Ashleigh Weatherall

BSc(Tech) in Animal Behaviour

Current Student

"Now my goal is to improve the welfare of captive animals and conserve endangered species."

Passionate to make a difference after seeing inadequate animal living conditions in Japanese zoos, Ashleigh Weatherall chose to pursue a Bachelor of Science (BSc(Tech)) at the University of Waikato.

“In high school I received a scholarship to live in Japan for three weeks. This was a real eye opener, as I saw the poor conditions in which animals live at Japanese zoos. Now my goal is to improve the welfare of captive animals and conserve endangered species.”

Following secondary school at Mahurangi College in Warkworth, Ashleigh chose Waikato for its proximity to her home, and because she could complete a major in Animal Behaviour with supporting papers in physiology.

“Highlights from my study so far would be shaping hens’ behaviour in the Ruakura animal lab and observing capuchin monkeys’ behaviour at the Hamilton Zoo during a class field trip.”

In the future she plans to travel overseas to work in animal sanctuaries or zoos, and perform research in the field of animal welfare.

“Study something you love, because you will never get bored. There will always be something new and interesting for you to learn.”


Kiriana Isgrove

Kiriana Isgrove

BSc in Biological Sciences

Current Student

“I love all the practical experience we are given in science papers. I found it particularly helpful during my summer studentship, when I found I already had a lot of the necessary practical skills that students at other universities did not.”

At high school Kiriana Isgrove considered herself an ‘average’ student. But since beginning her studies at the University of Waikato last year, she has found her niche in the areas of biological and environmental sciences.

“I find university so different, and I excel in most of my papers. I’ve achieved far better grades here and have been given opportunities I never thought I could have had.”

Kiriana attended Hauraki Plains College and is currently in her second year of a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Biological Sciences and Environmental Sciences. She chose Waikato because class numbers are small and the campus is close to home, while providing an excellent balance between rural and urban life.

“I have won several scholarships while attending Waikato University which I am extremely grateful for. I was also lucky enough to complete a studentship at AgResearch last summer, which was an incredibly valuable experience.”

Other highlights for her have been the labs and field trips.

“I love all the practical experience we are given in science papers. I found it particularly helpful during my summer studentship, when I found I already had a lot of the necessary practical skills that students at other universities did not.”

After completing her studies, Kiriana plans to pursue a career in environmental advising for either soil science or hydrology.

“I would recommend Waikato as an excellent university choice because the lecturers and tutors are so friendly and approachable, which makes adjusting to the student lifestyle so much easier.”


Rene Engelbrecht

Rene Engelbrecht

BE(Hons) in Materials and Process Engineering

Graduate Process Engineer
Technip Oceania, New Plymouth

"I think the key principle my degree taught me is how to apply and relate theories taught in class to real life.” 

For former Sacred Heart Girls’ College student Rene Engelbrecht, the University of Waikato provided the perfect campus to study engineering.

"My study at Waikato gave me a solid foundation in process engineering fundamentals that I can now build on and apply in industry. I think the key principle my degree taught me is how to apply and relate theories taught in class to real life.” 

Rene showed consistent academic excellence throughout her degree, and her multiple scholarships-wins have commended this.

Her scholarships have ranged from the Bachelor of Engineering Fees Scholarship in her first year of study, through to prizes in mathematics and energy research, plus a special scholarship celebrating the success of women in engineering and most recently the Freemasons University Scholarship. 

Rene is overwhelmed with the awards she has received, and considers them the highlight of her studies so far.

“My advice to people considering study at the University of Waikato would be to figure out what you want to do with your life as soon as possible and then give it your all.”


Fiona Clarkson

Fiona Clarkson

MSc in Biological Sciences

Environmental Officer/ Project Coordinator
Eco Barge Clean Seas Inc, Queensland

'More and more tourism operators are now leaning towards the ‘eco’ element in their operations.”

From coordinating a ‘Say No to Plastic Bags’ project, to the biannual ‘Mackay Coastal Clean Up’, life working for emerging not-for-profit organisation Eco Barge Clean Seas Inc. in Queensland has made years of study all worthwhile for Waikato graduate Fiona Clarkson.

“Eco Barge Clean Seas Inc. is what I like to call an ‘up and coming’ environmental not-for-profit organisation based in the Whitsunday region. My work involves co-ordinating a range of new projects for the organisation and helping out with our core role of removing marine debris from the Whitsunday Islands.”

The marine debris removal trips allow Fiona and her colleagues to visit islands within the Great Barrier Reef marine park, which are inaccessible to most tour operators.

“Even the seemingly pristine and protected corners of our earth are seriously impacted by conservation issues like marine debris.”

The former Fairfield College student took a gap year spent working in the hospitality industry, before deciding to study at Waikato because of its proximity to her family, friends and Raglan beach.

“For my undergraduate studies I completed a degree in Sport and Leisure with a minor in Biological Sciences. This allowed me to combine my love for the adventure tourism industry with practical scientific knowledge, particularly in ecology. More and more tourism operators are now leaning towards the ‘eco’ element in their operations.”

Before beginning her Master of Science (MSc) Fiona worked as an eco tour guide in Raglan for a kayak company. Her masters research was based on the population of genetics and ecology of endemic shrub epiphyte Pittosporum cornifolium.

“My MSc both extended my scientific knowledge base and allowed me to spend time outdoors. It was great! I got to go kayaking, on bush walking expeditions and even tree climbing. My masters also led me to my previous job as an environmental research assistant for the Environmental Research Institute at the University of Waikato, which in turn led me to my current position here in Queensland”.



Sanjay Patel

Sanjay Patel

BSc in Chemistry

Current Student

“Waikato is an excellent university choice, with smaller class sizes resulting in more practical work…”

Sanjay Patel found his passion in chemistry and finance at the University of Waikato after deciding an Otago health sciences degree wasn’t for him.

The former Kerikeri High School student is currently studying a conjoint Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Business Analysis degree and has also completed statistics papers to further support his Chemistry and Finance majors.

One highlight for Sanjay has been the practical component of his study, and its real-life application.

“Practical work is such a nice change from theory and can be quite fulfilling. In the first year we built and raced boats in an engineering paper, while last summer I was granted a $5000 Summer Research Scholarship, where I used computational chemistry to investigate phosphine-ozone complexes in the atmosphere.”

In the future Sanjay’s aim is to use both his science and business degrees throughout his career.
“I would like to potentially complete a PhD in analytical chemistry. Following this I would like to either work in the finance industry for an investment bank or move into an analytical chemistry career. Becoming a university lecturer in analytical chemistry is also a career path I might pursue.”

“Waikato is an excellent university choice, with smaller class sizes resulting in more practical work, which is valued by industry managers. Waikato has allowed me to diversify myself through networking, taking broad paper selections and getting involved in extracurricular activities. All of these things will help me stand out to potential employers.”


Ella Grierson

Ella Grierson

MSc in Biological Sciences

Current Student

“My most significant experiences during my study have been paid Summer Research Scholarships, and doing other research projects such as a directed study.”

Ella Grierson chose to study science at the University of Waikato because of the excellent papers in biological sciences and the location of the university close to her home town of Whitianga. 

“I came to university straight from high school, after completing Year 9-12 boarding at Hamilton Girls High School and Year 13 closer to home at Mercury Bay Area School.”

The relationships formed with professors as an undergraduate student cemented Ella’s decision to stay on at Waikato for further study.  Now in her second year of a Master of Science (MSc) studying biology, she is focusing on plants and genetics.

“My MSc project looks at divaricates, which are small leaved woody shrubs with closely interlaced branches. The divaricate growth form has evolved at least 17 times in the New Zealand flora and is a remarkable example of convergent evolution. I aim to find out which genes have resulted in the distinctive architecture involved in divaricate development.”

“My most significant experiences during my study have been paid Summer Research Scholarships, and doing other research projects such as a directed study. Taking part in those has resulted in numerous publications, and has given me a taste for research. They were extremely valuable experiences that prepared me well for my MSc.”

After completing her MSc, Ella plans to take a few years to gain some lab experience before starting a PhD. Her long term goal is to obtain an academic position at a research focused university.

“My advice to current school students is to take advantage of every opportunity they are given to get a wide range of skills and experiences. You never know which directions you will take and it’s the perfect time to learn not only what you enjoy doing, but also what you don’t enjoy.”


Lindi Engelbrecht

Lindi Engelbrecht

BE(Hons) in BiochemicalEngineering

Current Student

“The small class sizes in comparison to other universities mean you aren’t just ‘another number’; lecturers actually know your name.”

For engineering student Lindi Engelbrecht, the University of Waikato ticked all the boxes, providing a campus close to home, with internationally recognized degrees, numerous scholarships and small class sizes.

Previously a student at Sacred Heart Girls’ College in Hamilton, Lindi is currently in her third year of a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours), studying the Chemical and Biological Engineering programme, with supporting papers in process engineering.

“The small class sizes in comparison to other universities mean you aren’t just ‘another number’; lecturers actually know your name.”

Highlights of her study so far have included scholarships, awards and completing engineering design projects.

“It has been very humbling and gratifying to receive scholarships and awards, and engineering design projects have added an exciting element to the degree. In my first year we competed in the boat design challenge, in my second year we did an automated compost unit and so far in my third year we’ve completed a distillation design.”

Once she graduates, Lindi would like to gain experience in New Zealand’s oil and gas industry.

“My advice to potential students is to apply for all the scholarships on offer; there are so many and they help a lot.  Waikato is an excellent choice, with great facilities and resources, which give you an internationally recognised degree."


Shaun Funnell

Shaun Funnell

BSc in Earth Sciences

Current Student

“I’ve loved making new friends, the interesting field trips and learning from some great, passionate people.”

Earth Sciences student Shaun Funnell has clear direction for his future, which is fuelling his motivation to study hard and achieve excellent results.

After a few years in the workforce, Shaun decided it was time to begin study towards a tertiary education. He chose Waikato University because it was close to home; he chose Earth Sciences as a strategic decision to help ensure job security in the future.

“After graduating I’ll seek employment in the energy resources sector, and in a few years I will consider studying extramurally for an MBA.”

Shaun is currently working towards a Bachelor of Science majoring in Earth Sciences. He recently won the H. S. Gibbs prize in Earth Sciences for an Earth Sciences field trip report.

There are many things he enjoys about the study and lifestyle at Waikato, and recommends it as an excellent choice of university.

“I’ve loved making new friends, the interesting field trips and learning from some great, passionate people.”

Shaun encourages other students to think practically about their study options.

“Choose a worthwhile degree that you know is in demand in terms of employment and job security. Don’t mess around and waste your opportunity to excel. Work hard, do all your assignments, study for exams, and get top results. That’s what you’re there for, and you will be rewarded in the end when you’re hired for a top job.”


Stewart Robertson

Stewart Robertson

BSc in Biological Sciences

Director and Skipper
Owner/Operator of Golden Future Environmental Ltd

“Five percent of my proceeds...are going to the Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust, a community based conservation group."

Waikato biological sciences graduate Stewart Robertson has used his scientific knowledge and entrepreneurial vision to create an idyllic lifestyle for himself as an owner/operator conservation tour guide in the Abel Tasman National Park.

“A typical day for me involves greeting each of my tour groups with a presentation on ecology and conservation themes. We then board my boat ‘Zeehaen’ and embark on a voyage of discovery around the iconic Abel Tasman National Park. We explore intertidal areas, soft and rocky shores, open sea, island bird sanctuaries, tidal inlets and seal colonies. The day is broken up with lunch at Anchorage beach and a two hour guided walk around Pitt Head mainland ecological island.”

This venture did not come out of the blue. Stewart spent last summer working as a senior water taxi skipper for Abel Tasman Aqua Taxi, which included sustainability consulting. He continues to act as a sustainability manager and skipper for Abel Tasman Aqua Taxi alongside his own company.

Stewart says he not only has high hopes for the success of his business, Golden Future Environmental Ltd, but also for the level that he can contribute to the environment and wider community.

“Five percent of my proceeds from the tours are going to the Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust, a community based conservation group. I hope to achieve significant results for them as well as expanding my activities to deliver conservation messages to school and community groups.”

While eco-tourism is his core business, Stewart also provides scientific research services to organisations such as Waikato University. In the past he has worked as a scientific diver for the University and specialist dive contractors Dive NZ on the Rena response, plus he has worked as a scientific diver for Waikato University and the Department of Conservation at Kapiti Island.

Stewart finished his studies at the University of Waikato’s Tauranga campus just last year. He began his studies with a two-year Diploma of Marine Studies through the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic and continued on to a third year of study with Waikato University; crediting his diploma towards a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Biological Sciences. 


Kathleen Martinez

Kathleen Martinez

BSc in Environmental Sciences

Exchange student from University of California Davis

“I wanted a more personalised, hands-on experience at university, and Waikato provided that." 

University of California Davis student Kathleen Martinez chose an exchange in New Zealand because of the unique ecosystems, beautiful landscapes and rich Maori heritage.

Just half way through a 10 month exchange at the University of Waikato, Kathleen credits her exchange as the highlight of her university experience thus far and says she has already grown in so many ways.

“I wanted a more personalised, hands-on experience at university, and Waikato provided that. Waikato puts an emphasis on small class sizes, and the science papers typically have a lab and field work component. I’m in a lab the same amount of time, if not more than I’m in lectures each week, which really helps me retain the information I’m learning,” says Kathleen.

As an environmental sciences student, Kathleen found that the excellent variety of resource and ecology papers at Waikato made it easy to choose classes that would count towards her degree.

“I’m studying a variety of papers in soil science, atmospheric science, hydrology, ecology, geography and resource planning while at Waikato. I’m also taking one cultural paper in Maori weaving, which has been ideal for expressing my creative side while learning about Maori culture.”

She describes Hamilton’s location within the North Island of New Zealand as ideal for travelling. With its proximity to the ocean, the Coromandel region and more, Kathleen has been able to explore the area easily and has taken lots of small road trips during the semester.

“New Zealand’s people and Hamilton’s location have made my time here so enjoyable. I have made so many close friendships with New Zealand students and their families during my stay that it will be difficult to leave in a couple months.”

After graduation, Kathleen hopes to become an environmental scientist, natural resource scientist, or environmental consultant; and because of her time in New Zealand, she says she is now inspired to live and work abroad in the future.


Alice Wang

Alice Wang

BSc(Tech); MSc in Chemistry

Current Student

"Waikato has so much to offer! Be prepared to have fun, meet new friends, and learn exciting stuff"

Multiple scholarships, a year working in London and a highly regarded Bachelor of Science (Technology) (BSc(Tech)) degree from Waikato, have made study an exciting journey for former Hillcrest High student Alice Wang.

“I majored in Biochemistry for my undergraduate studies but I took a lot of chemistry papers. I’m now completing my Master of Science in Chemistry, and my research will focus on the characterization of bioactive compounds from marine natural products and their biological modes of action within a cell.”

“In the final year of my BSc(Tech), I got the amazing opportunity to go to the UK to complete one of my work placements. I spent 12 months working at Tata Global Beverages in London, where I really enjoyed working in research and development. I also took the opportunity to travel around Europe in my spare time.”

The London placement was a highlight for Alice and she says the opportunity was an amazing chance for her to put the theory she had learnt in class in to practice. The work placement programme is coordinated by the University’s Co-operative Education Unit. Most placements are paid and all contribute to course credit.

Working hard and getting involved in university life has paid off for Alice, both literally and in the skills she has gained. Alice was the recipient of both the School Leavers and Science Admission Fees scholarships in her first year, and has more recently been awarded the University of Waikato Taught Postgraduate Fees Scholarship and the Brian Perry Charitable Trust Graduate Scholarships.

“As a second-year student I was invited to join the Golden Key International Honours Society where I am currently an active committee member. I was also highly involved with the Waikato Biological Society as part of the committee that organised several successful events.”

Alice thoroughly enjoys studying at the University of Waikato, and recommends it to students considering study.

“Waikato has so much to offer! Be prepared to have fun, meet new friends, and learn exciting stuff. Join a club on campus to be more involved, it’s totally worth it. It’s not all fun and games though; you’ve got to work hard! The academics work hard to help their students and they expect the students to try their best. You’ll love it here like I do.”


Kirsten Nel

Kirsten Nel

BE(Hons) in Engineering

Current Student

“Being recognised as a high achiever and a hard worker by my lecturers has been a highlight for me."

For electronic engineering honours student Kirsten Nel, the University of Waikato was her first choice because of glowing reviews from current students.

Kirsten came straight to Waikato University from Fraser High School in Hamilton, which meant she could save money by living at home and didn’t have to cope with moving to another city. 

“I also already knew numerous other students from the year above me who were doing the same degree and only had good things to say about it.”

In addition to the practicalities of studying in her home town, she was blown away by the hands-on element of the Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) degree.

“At the end of our second and third years Waikato staff help us to find paid work placements which are carried out over the summer holidays. The work load in terms of theory and practical is also pretty even, which means that we spend just as much time learning as we do putting those concepts into practice.”

Currently in the middle of her third year, Kirsten’s biggest goal right now is to graduate with first class honours. She believes this will be a major achievement and will provide a significant advantage when it comes to future employment.

“At the moment I’m employed by Gallaghers, which was my first choice of work placement and somewhere I have aimed to work since I was a Year 10 electronics student at high school. My aim is to show the team at Gallagher how much of an asset I am to them, in the hope they consider employing me full-time when I graduate.”

A recipient of numerous scholarships including the School Leavers Merit Scholarship and Engineering Fees Scholarship, Kirsten is also a member of the Golden Key International Honours society for academic excellence and a recently nominated student ambassador for the Faculty of Science and Engineering.

“Being recognised as a high achiever and a hard worker by my lecturers has been a highlight for me. I always strive to do my absolute best and I am very glad that it’s recognised.”


Victoria McCullough

Victoria McCullough

BE in Materials and Process Engineering

Graduate Process Engineer
Transfield Worley, New Plymouth

“Companies approach us to complete projects for them."

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.


Sarah Cross

Sarah Cross

BSc(Tech) in Biological Sciences

Technician
Plant and Food Research, Hamilton

“I absolutely love my job and I get to learn new things every day."

Sarah Cross is buzzing with enthusiasm in her role at Plant and Food Research, Hamilton.

One of Sarah’s roles is as the hive manager for the Pollination and Apiculture team. She travels around the Waikato maintaining the health of hives, collecting honey and monitoring a number of different diseases and pests such as varroa mite and American fould brood disease.

She also spends time in the laboratories, running toxicity tests, pollination trials and tests on the pollination efficiency of alternative pollinating insects.  

“I absolutely love my job and I get to learn new things every day. Bees are so important for pollination of crops around the world and I feel proud to be a part of such a world renowned organisation that is helping to keep bees healthy.” 


Mikita Thakor

Mikita Thakor

BE in Materials and Process Engineering

Instrument Technician
Hill Laboratories

"The hands-on nature of my engineering degree set me up with practical troubleshooting expertise.."

Mikita works in the busy inorganic section of Hill Laboratories’ Environmental Division. Here she analyses water and soil 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.



Jonathan Puddick

Jonathan Puddick

BSc; MSc; PhD in Chemistry

Technical Consultant
Cawthron Institute, Nelson

"I provide advice and support to the routine Food Testing Lab."

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.



Jamie Bridson

Jamie Bridson

BSc; MSc in Chemistry

Scientist
Scion, Taupo

“What I love about my job is the wide variety."

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



Aaron Low

Aaron Low

BE in BiochemicalEngineering

Process Optimisation Engineer
Bakels Edible Oils, Mt Maunganui

“In the short term I want to gain as much practical experience as possible, to complement what I learnt at university and reduce the effects of waste and fuel in New Zealand industrial practices."

Following undergraduate and postgraduate engineering study at the University of Waikato, Aaron Low has taken his knowledge of materials and process engineering to a whole new level at Bakels Edible Oils in Mt Maunganui. 

“Bakels refines edible oils for local and international markets. My role as a process optimisation engineer involves increasing productivity and product quality, while reducing the amount of waste being produced. I’ve made a good start, but there are still plenty of exciting opportunities for further improvements.”

“Specific projects I’ve been involved with include investigating novel ways to generate energy from a solid waste produced on site, and investigating using waste oil from our site as an alternative fuel. This has the potential to save Bakels a lot of money as the price of fuels and waste disposal increases.”

A past Hamilton Boys High School student, Aaron chose to study at the University of Waikato for its interesting subjects, small class sizes, good location and excellent reputation. 

“It meant I could remain close to family. I also liked Hamilton because it was central to good locations for outdoor activities like tramping and hunting.”

Aaron’s fascination with reducing waste in industrial processes began as an undergraduate student completing his Bachelor of Engineering in Biochemical Engineering*. His fourth-year project involved developing methods to remove colour from red blood cell concentrate, a waste product from meat processing. Due to the success he found, he was asked to stay on for a PhD, during which he worked on removing the colour and smell from bloodmeal (another by-product from meat processing) and converting that material into a bioplastic.

“I achieved this and obtained several journal publications, a provisional patent and attended several international and local conferences.”

“In the short term I want to gain as much practical experience as possible, to complement what I learnt at university and reduce the effects of waste and fuel in New Zealand industrial practices. Further into the future I hope to become a university lecturer, as I enjoy teaching, research and interacting with students.”

*Note: Since Aaron’s time at the University of Waikato, the Bachelor of Engineering is now aBachelor of Engineering (Honours) and Biochemical Engineering is now Chemical & Biological Engineering.


Jacob Croall

Jacob Croall

BSc; MSc in Chemistry

Manager: Global Water Treatment
Newmont Mining Corporation, Colorado, USA

“While at Waikato University my training equipped me with the tools I needed to succeed in the mining industry."

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.”



Holly Goddard

Holly Goddard

BSc; MSc in Earth Sciences

Geothermal Monitoring Technician
MB Century

"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.”


Samantha Muir

Samantha Muir

BSc in Earth Sciences

Graduate Geologist
Newmont Boddington Gold (Newmont Asia Pacific)

"During my BSc the biggest highlight by far was doing fieldwork in the search for the Pink & White Terraces..."

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.


Michael Eschenbruch

Michael Eschenbruch

BE(Hons) in Mechanical Engineering

Reliability Engineer
Snowy Hydro Limited

“I feel very fortunate to be in a job that gives me a great deal of responsibility and accountability so early in my career.”

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.


Ashley Webby

Ashley Webby

BSc(Tech); MSc in Biological Sciences

Current MSc student at Waikato University

“I absolutely loved my placement at the Otorohanga Kiwi House, where I was a keeper and raised eight baby kiwi chicks.”

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.


Kit Lawrence

Kit Lawrence

BSc(Tech) in Earth Sciences

Engineering Geologist
AECOM

“Its’ been a real privilege to be able to help the people of Christchurch get back to normal."

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 works 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.”

Additionally, over the past six months Kit has been in Saudi Arabia working on the Riyadh Metro Project, for which AECOM is undertaking the geotechnical design for two (out of six) rail lines which incorporate tunnels.

“During this overseas stint, my role has been part of a geological and geotechnical team, working as a consultant during the geotechnical investigations. Investigations involve boreholes and numerous geotechnical testing methods. The role has been a great experience both in terms of career development and cultural awareness. It has also been both fun and very testing!”


Aaron Huesser

Aaron Huesser

BSc; MSc in Earth Sciences

Australia's Horizon's Programme
Chevron, Perth

“We’ll be using advanced geological and geophysical tools and new technologies to find, evaluate and develop oil and gas resources.”

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 has been selected for Chevron Australia’s Horizons’ Programme, which will take five years and involve three different assignments. 

For Chevron he’ll be undertaking exploration, production management, research and development, and reservoir management and development. He’s one of three graduate geologists that Chevron’s taking on in 2014.

“We’ll be using advanced geological and geophysical tools and new technologies to find, evaluate and develop oil and gas resources.”

Aaron will be the sixth Waikato student in as many years to be selected for a graduate position in Chevron.

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.


Catherine Kirby (nee Bryan)

Catherine Kirby (nee Bryan)

BSc; MSc in Biological Sciences

Research Support Officer
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 Kirby.

“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.”


Stefan Smith

Stefan Smith

BSc(Tech) in Chemistry

Carbon Capture Chemist
Aberthaw Power Station, Wales

“Recently I’ve been developing and validating analytical methods and preparing the current laboratory for the upcoming carbon capture plant (CCP)."

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.”


Josh Livingston

Josh Livingston

PGDip in Materials and Processing

Quality Assurance Manager
The New Zealand Dessert Company Limited, Tauranga

“Studying at a top university such as Waikato was my long term goal right from my childhood..."

Graduate Josh Livingston is enjoying sweet success as a Quality Assurance Manager at The New Zealand Dessert Company Limited in Tauranga. 

“My main priority in this role is to maintain a high quality product and a healthy working environment. My day-to-day tasks include upholding standards and procedures, organizing laboratory testing on finished products, completing internal audits, and working closely with the factory manager on planning and scheduling productions,” says Josh. 

Josh decided to move to New Zealand to study towards a Post Graduate Diploma in Materials and Processing at Waikato University upon completing a bachelor degree in biotechnology in India. Before arriving for his study, Josh had not visited New Zealand before. 

“I believe New Zealand is one of the most amazing countries, filled with many opportunities for the younger generation such as myself. Hamilton was a great place to live and the beautiful climate and landscapes captured me right from the first day. I would love to bring my parents someday to stay with me in this awesome country.”

 “Within Materials and Processing I chose to study protein purification and extraction. My papers gave me a clear and practical understanding of the recent technologies that are being used in industry. I also took papers on bio-processing techniques and food technology, which helped to develop my technical knowledge and practical skills.”

Josh was able to keep strong ties with his Indian culture while living in Hamilton. Church fellowships, social gatherings, youth outings, and cricket games all helped 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 and students. From the very first day I was supported by staff in every possible way.”



Cathy (Zhi) Liu

Cathy (Zhi) Liu

PhD in Earth Sciences

Currently studying towards a PhD in Earth Sciences
University of Waikato

Cathy's research involves a substantial field data collection from waves, tidal currents, river flow and suspended sediment concentrations..

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.

Cathy's supervisors are Dr. Willem de Lange and Dr. Karin Bryan (both of the University of Waikato) and Dr. Christian Winter (of Bremen University in Germany).


Kosala Kankanamge

Kosala Kankanamge

PhD in Electronic Engineering

PhD - Power Electronics
University of Waikato

“I decided on Waikato University, as it’s one of New Zealand’s leading research universities."

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.


Adara Withers

Adara Withers

BSc(Tech); MSc in Biological Sciences

MSc student
University of Waikato

“I learnt through my experiences that a conservation project is not possible without involving the local community.”

Studying bird life in some of the world’s most beautiful islands has been all part of the Waikato University experience for science student Tehani Withers.

Tehani began a Master of Science last year, following completion of a Bachelor of Science (Technology) (BSc(Tech)). 

“For my masters I will be studying the habitats and nutrient requirements for the translocated takahe on Motutapu Island in the Hauraki Gulf near Auckland. The island has recently been eradicated of pests, and translocation of the takahe was made in 2011. Since the island is mostly a big farm, we want to see how restoration of wetlands in certain areas would benefit the birds, in terms of their feeding and breeding success,” says Tehani. 

During her BSc(Tech) degree she completed two work placements in French Polynesia, both with the Bird Society SOP (Société d'Ornithologie de Polynésie) Manu.

“During my first three-month placement 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.”

As part of the intern position she also 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.

During the second work placement of six months, Tehani returned to SOP Manu to study the Tahiti monarch, a fly-catcher bird species. “I monitored the reproductive and feeding behaviours of the birds and completed a survey of electric ants which are a potential threat. I also conducted a point-count survey for invasive introduced bird species such as the common myna and red-vented bulbul, which lead to participating in a trapping campaign with Susana Saavedra, an expert trapper from Spain.” 

Tehani 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.”

Tehani grew up in French Polynesia and her family reside there. After completing secondary school in Tahiti, Tehani 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.


Mel Slade

Mel Slade

BE in Electronic Engineering

Systems Engineer
CTEK Combined Technologies

“What I enjoy most about working at CTEK is the new challenges that come with each project..." 

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.


Kieran Miller

Kieran Miller

BSc; MSc in Biological Sciences

Ecologist
Tonkin & Taylor Ltd

A highlight has been creating a translocation plan for tuatara.

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.


Varun Dennis

Varun Dennis

BE in Mechanical Engineering

Sales Engineer
RML Engineering, Hamilton

"We provide solutions to any process that needs to be more automated."

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 started with RML as a Mechanical Design Engineer and have progressed into the role of a Sales Engineer. My current role involves generating sales and bringing new clients to the company. This includes coming up with the best solution (skills I learnt as a design engineer) and pricing and sometimes presenting proposals for projects around the world."

RML design, manufacture, assemble, project manage and commission production automation solutions.

"Basically we provide solutions to any process that needs to be less manual and more automated." 


Cody Wright

Cody Wright

BSc; MSc in Chemistry

Technologist
Hill Laboratories

The MSc really gave me a taste for research..

A passion for chemistry has led Cody Wright to an exciting position with New Zealand’s leading analytical testing laboratory.

Cody works in the research and development division at Hill Laboratories as a Technologist. This is his second position with the company. 

He is involved in the testing of products for pesticide levels using a suite of high-tech equipment. 

“While my previous role involved performing the tests myself, my current role is at an operational level. As new pesticides come onto the market and/or regulations are updated, we need to ensure that we can test for them down to the required detection limits. This often requires implementation of new and existing instruments and techniques to develop more effective testing methods.”

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.”


Catherine Charleson

Catherine Charleson

BSc(Tech) in Biological Sciences

Clinical Embryologist
Fertility Associates, Hamilton

“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 Hamilton 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 enjoyed a similar position at The London Women's Clinic. Catherine returned to Hamilton in 2013 to a senior clinical embryologist role back at Fertility Associates.


Riki Lewis

Riki Lewis

BSc; MSc in Earth Sciences

Soil Scientist
Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, 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.”


Norzahirah Ahmad

Norzahirah Ahmad

BSc; BSc(Hons) in Materials and Processing

Research Officer
Herbal Medicine Research Centre, Institute for Medical Research, Ministry of Health, Malaysia

“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.”

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!”


Dylan Harrison

Dylan Harrison

BSc(Tech); MSc(Tech)(Hons) in Chemistry

Area Manager
NALCO, an Ecolab company, Hamilton

"My long term goal is to move into an upper 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 managing a team of water treatment experts with the goal of providing value to our customers by implementing water treatment programmes for companies such as dairy factories, power stations, hospitals and food and beverage manufacturers.  Our 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 we monitor their water treatment programmes and make any changes or recommendations to help optimise the programme based on our onsite test results.”


Ashleigh Bright

Ashleigh Bright

BSc; MSc in Biological Sciences

Head 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 an exciting role in the UK at the Food Animal Initiative Ltd (FAI) for science graduate Ashleigh Bright.

“I’m involved in 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."

Ashleigh manages five other scientists and is currently the industry supervisor for a Knowledge Transfer Partnership with the University of Reading. The 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!"


Megan Grainger

Megan Grainger

BSc; MSc in Chemistry

PhD Chemistry Student
University of Waikato

“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”.

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”.


Brad Hopcroft

Brad Hopcroft

BSc; MSc in Earth Sciences

Development Geologist
Chevron, Perth

"The best thing about my job has been the opportunity to develop my career... "

Waikato graduate and former Tauranga Boys’ College student Brad Hopcroft is a development geologist for Chevron, a global energy company.

"I’m currently working on the Barrow Island Oil Field, which is around 60km from the mainland of Western Australia. Chevron has been producing oil on Barrow Island since 1967 and has drilled over 900 wells. My role includes planning new development wells, identifying new development opportunities and optimising existing production wells.”

“The best thing about my job has been 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.”


David Gilmour

David Gilmour

BSc(Tech) in Biological Sciences

Biology Teacher
St Peter’s School, Cambridge

"It’s all worth it to see the students excited about science.”

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.”


Timothy Walmsley

Timothy Walmsley

BE in Materials and Process Engineering

PhD Materials & Process Engineering Student
University of Waikato

“The overall goal of my PhD research is to increase energy efficiency of powder production by recovering energy from hot humid exhaust air streams.”

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.”


Michael Betschart

Michael Betschart

BE in Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical Engineer
Tetra Pak, Hamilton

“My degree gave me a solid knowledge base from which to build my career." 

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, designing dairy processing equipment and layouts using 2D and 3D CAD packages, and performing inspections of equipment fabricated at workshops.”

“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.”


Hamish Smith

Hamish Smith

BSc(Tech) in Earth Sciences

Environmental Scientist
AWT New Zealand Ltd

"I’ve got no regrets in regards to my career choice.”

“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.”


Joe Butterworth

Joe Butterworth

BSc; MSc in Biological Sciences

Contractor (Bay of Plenty Regional Council), Technical Officer (The University of Waikato)

"It’s great being able to contribute to Tangata Whenua environmental aspirations.”

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. This involves water quality monitoring, scientific diving (aquatic pest plant surveillance and sample collection) and assisting university students with their field work on the lakes.”


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Shaun Funnell

Shaun Funnell
BSc in Earth Sciences

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Spring 2014