'I was impressed with the quality of the teaching and the support given by the lecturers...'
Bachelor of Science in Physics
Senior Test Design Engineer, Tait Communications Ltd
Working in the wireless communications industry, Liz is finding that her Physics degree has many advantages.
‘Our lab provides an automated facility for engineers to do pre-compliance RF (radio frequency) performance testing on our new products,’ she explains.
‘My job often involves investigating issues with RF – this is always interesting because RF is invisible, so you have to rely on your knowledge of the physics of the situation, and then devise ways to test if your understanding is correct.’
Liz says that the insight she can bring to her team works well as a complement to the engineering skills amongst them.
‘Feedback I have had from senior engineers is that whilst trained engineers are very methodical and thorough, physics graduates tend to have a more intuitive grasp of concepts, and this can give us an edge in problem solving. The impression I get is that they like to have a physics graduate in the mix somewhere.’
Initially, however, it was Engineering that Liz enrolled to study at university. During her intermediate year, she found she enjoyed the wide range of subject matter in the physics papers to be even more interesting. ‘I think I probably wanted to know the gist of how everything worked, which Physics certainly can provide.’
After completing her BSc, Liz went on to do a Bachelor of Engineering Technology at CPIT which she was able to complete in just two years after cross-crediting some of her UC Physics courses. She then took her first job at Tait as a junior technician – ‘on a slightly higher salary because they thought having a Physics degree meant I showed potential for advancement’ – and has stayed with the company ever since.
Liz later returned to UC to take some 200-level Mathematics courses ‘as a refresher’ and enjoyed the experience.
‘I found the courses to be very worthwhile. It was challenging going back to maths after such a long time away, but I was impressed with the quality of the teaching and the support given by the lecturers.’
Having grown up in Ashburton and Christchurch, Liz was happy to take advantage of her local university’s strengths in both Engineering and Science.
‘I couldn’t see any good reason to study anywhere else,’ she says. ‘I have never regretted taking Physics as my major, and it has certainly come in useful. I would say to others who are thinking about it that if you are interested in the subject, go ahead with it.