Sebastian Pian

'UC has opened up my eyes to so many opportunities...'

  • Sebastian Pian

Studying towards a Bachelor of Engineering with Honours in Civil Engineering

Structural Engineer Technician, Spanbild NZ Ltd

As a ‘huge architectural fan’ with an interest in structural engineering, Sebastian knew that studying Civil Engineering was going to be an exciting journey towards his dream career.

‘I have always been interested in structures and the design of interiors and exteriors for buildings. I find it amazing how a single brick over time can develop into an amazing block of building, with the effort and communication of a project team,’ he says. ‘Also, I love seeing my work actually contributing and making a difference in the world.’

With family from Malaysia living and studying in New Zealand, Sebastian thoroughly enjoyed his visits here and made it his ‘first choice’ for university study.

‘Every time I visit, I just fall in love with the sceneries and the people. The general population of NZ are very welcoming and that is something that contributes to settling and feeling comfortable during my study years in NZ,’ he says.

‘Besides that, the Māori culture here is a very unique and entertaining experience for me. It is great to experience something else other than what we have back home in Malaysia.’

Staying at Ilam Apartments near campus, Sebastian had the extra benefit of living with fellow students to help with his start at UC.

‘The staff have always been welcoming and helpful. Anytime I had doubts and enquiries, they are very quick to respond. One of the benefits of living on campus is that it is really close to the lecture halls. Besides that, Ilam Apartments is really close to a wide range of facilities such as supermarkets, restaurants, sports fields and many others.

‘Also, the people I have flatted with were amazing. It really does help one settle down into the local cultures of NZ staying in campus accommodation. Not only do you experience the local cultures, but also other international cultures with flatmates from different parts of the world.’

Becoming involved with student clubs was also a great way of settling into UC. Sebastian is an active member of the Ultimate Frisbee Club playing social team games, and also the Canterbury Malaysian Student Association (CMSA) to meet other Malaysian students.

Enrolling at UC for Civil Engineering studies with a UC College of Engineering International Scholarship, Sebastian has gained a lot of enjoyment from the practical tasks in his degree. One highlight was the annual bridge building competition, where students work in teams to construct a lightweight bridge over a stream on campus.

‘Designing an actual functional bridge has been an immensely rewarding eye-opener on the applications of design calculations and load paths for structures. This project itself shows how UC integrates real life technicalities and fun together,’ he says.

Another highlight was a Site Survey and Transport field trip to Living Springs.

‘It was an amazing five days four nights trip. I was assigned to a group of another four people and we got to practise the real life technicalities of site surveying during the trip. At night, we would have group bonding sessions and have good fun together. The field trip definitely got me to get to know my course-mates and lecturers more.’

Probably the biggest opportunity he has had so far, however, is a summer internship with Spanbild, which he achieved with the help of the Careers team.

‘Working in Spanbild has allowed me to apply the knowledge that I have learned from the University into actual projects and buildings. All of this exciting as you get to see your design being utilised and integrated into buildings,’ he says.

‘As this company focuses on producing engineering solutions for projects, I am tasked to calculate wind speed acting on structures for projects all around New Zealand. Besides that, I have also been tasked to produce 3-D models for projects to verify if the building is able to withstand load applied. All in all, this job has been fulfilling so far with amazing co-workers!’

His experiences at UC have inspired hopes for an international career, bringing positive change through structural design wherever he can.

‘I have always loved travelling and I would like to see myself working in different parts of the world, learning different cultural views on my focus of study and gaining more experience. At the same time, this would be perfect for me to contribute towards society with my work in different parts of the world!

‘In the long run, I hope one day my work experience can lead me to becoming a successful developer back in my home town. My experiences at UC helped me to realise that what I have been through back home in Kuching was just a small part of my life. UC has opened up my eyes to so many opportunities. I have never regretted my decision to be part of this eye-opening experience here.’

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