Volunteer. Engineer. Scholar.
Alex Manktelow
Get to know Alex Manktelow,
Mechanical Engineering

Why are you passionate about Mechanical Engineering?

It's all about problem solving, and I think the world has quite a few problems to solve!

Have you had the chance to solve any world issues yet?

One cool thing I've been involved with is Engineers without Borders. It’s an engineering aid organisation at UC that's part of a larger national group with a mission to connect, educate and empower people through humanitarian engineering.

What projects have you been involved in?

The organisation does a lot of work in the South Pacific, but as a student club we work on local projects. I’m currently running the Warm Homes Initiative where we are trying to improve the quality of rental housing. There is a clear link that cold, damp homes make people sick and New Zealand has some of the worst housing in the developed world. We’ve set out to try and change this.

What do you like about helping people?

All volunteering is selfish to some degree. It makes you feel good and you’re learning skills all the time. Skills that complement and have become an extension to what I’ve been learning in class.

"One cool thing I've been involved with is Engineers without Borders. "

At UC you’ve come out as gay. How has that been for you?

When I came out, while I was nervous, I wasn’t too worried about homophobia – I haven’t experienced that at UC – I was worried that I'd become defined only as ‘being gay’. In the end I realised that while sexuality is a part of you, it doesn't define who you are or what you do.

So people at UC were pretty open minded?

Yeah, for sure! It's been a safe environment to come out in. I don't worry about it any more.

Any advice for someone else wondering about coming out?

It's scary! You’ve probably been hiding it for ages, I certainly had. For me, one of the things that helped me come out was meeting other gay people who are totally at ease in life. I found that living up to people’s perceptions of you isn’t all that great if you’re hiding a part of youself. Come to UC, have a fresh start and when you’re comfortable, maybe it’s time to tell a few people. It's been fantastic for me!

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