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Student story

Harry Gates

20 July 2023

"I wish to influence energy and climate change policy in New Zealand, and potentially abroad..."


Bachelor of Engineering with Honours in Natural Resources Engineering

Master of Engineering Studies with an endorsement in Renewable Energy

Graduate, Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority

Finding inspiration from An Inconvenient Truth documenting global climate change, Harry's Natural Resources and Renewable Energy studies are leading him onto a meaningful career helping the planet.

"The issue of energy conservation and climate change is arguably the most important issue facing humanity's survival. The decision to acknowledge and respond to global warming, to me, is a do or die type of decision," he says. "The field is also still developing and there is surplus opportunity to make an impact." 

Harry developed an in-depth interest in sustainable energy sources after a year spent in Central Otago, and decided on pursuing his Natural Resources Engineering degree at UC.

"I think that UC student culture is a healthy balance between the chaos of Dunedin and the functionality of what you expect from a good university. Balancing a fun time as a student and a successful career as an academic was made easy by the culture created at UC. 

"Living in Christchurch is great too if you make the most of it. The sea is 30 minutes away, the snow is an hour away, and there are more parks in Christchurch than any other city (in my opinion)."

Also being able to get involved in the local energy industry was an ideal way for Harry to get experience in the workforce and with conducting his own research projects.

"I participated in an internship with OCTA Project Managers in the Christchurch office. This was definitely beneficial and a worthwhile exposure to professional practice. I also completed two Summer Research Scholarships and found a lot of value in them. They were great ways to continue learning in my field of interest whilst fulfilling my hours, making good connections, and still managing to save for the upcoming year.  

"My studies provided me with a platform of knowledge, taught me how to write at an academic level, and taught me how to learn independently."

Moving onto postgraduate studies in Renewable Energy, Harry's research and coursework focused on energy generation at local and global scales.

"The coursework dived into energy policy, and possible transition pathways to achieve a sustainable future, in regards to dire factors such as climate change and resource scarcity," he says.

When trying to decide how to specialise, "do your best to determine which part of the field you are most interested in ie, the big picture view such as managerial roles, feasibility assessments, etc, or if you are more interested in the finer details such as system design, or modelling intricate details such as flow over a turbine".

He was awarded scholarships for his master"s from Orion New Zealand Limited, and from UC through the Sir Robertson Stewart Scholarship, acknowledging the large amount of support from the industry for research in Renewable Energy.

Now graduated, Harry looks forward to the influence he can have on the sustainable energy sector.

"Ultimately I wish to influence energy and climate change policy in New Zealand, and potentially abroad," he says. "I would be satisfied with helping implement the changes, but would love to have an impact on the way in which decision making processes regarding energy policy are conducted."

He has since been employed by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) to complete their graduate programme. The role is 18 months long and involves spending approximately three months in each of EECA"s teams in Wellington. He will be exposed to energy management practices at a variety of scales, work in corporate based teams, and participate in regulatory and strategy development programmes.

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