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Student story

Jessie Winder

20 July 2023

"The engineering industry is huge, varied and a fantastic platform to work in..."


Bachelor of Engineering with Honours in Civil Engineering

Graduate Civil Engineer, WSP Opus NZ

With her work at WSP Opus, Jessie has already stepped well into the civil engineering industry through her involvement in a range of infrastructure projects.

"The engineering industry is huge, varied and a fantastic platform to work in," she says. "I am working towards building a strong technical understanding of my industry. I think this is really important if you want to successfully manage projects and be able to advise clients appropriately."

"My job requires working with engineers, project managers and planners from other disciplines to meet our client requirements. No two days are the same! I get to work with people from across the company doing something new each day."

Jessie has always wanted a career that can help develop the community, and found that Civil Engineering was an ideal way to be directly involved.

"I have always had a fascination with infrastructure, and how it plays such an important role in our day to day lives. Sports fields and public amenities can change the way you feel about a place."

It was a chance application in an engineering science competition through high school that helped steer her towards Civil Engineering study at university. This involved developing a plan that could implement mobile data service across New Zealand, specifically for hard-to-reach areas.

"I loved the team work, thinking outside the box and applying my skills in maths and writing," she says.

Civil Engineering studies with UC gave her more opportunities to utilise her skills in practical settings, with its emphasis on project-based learning.

"Critical thinking, communication and team work are the most important skills I took from University. The technical skills are key, but it is the soft skills that really make a difference. UC teaches you how to work with others, how to prioritise your work on top of a strong understanding of the fundamentals of engineering."

Being able to study overseas on an exchange at the University of Bath in the UK was an amazing extra to her degree experiences. Along with another UC student, Jessie completed a project which investigated the potential benefit of using tidal power in the River Severn.

"We had to select a location and design an innovative, world-first system that would put tidal power on the world stage. It was a challenging project; we had to balance social, financial and environmental cost. We did extensive research into the environmental policies in the UK and selected a location with the influence of local ecosystems and protected species. The River Severn has the third greatest tidal range in the world and therefore has huge potential as a resource.

"We did extensive research on the effects of the development on the triple bottom line. We used our skills in MATLAB to produce a model that would optimise the system. It was great working in a team on a concept that would raise the bar for sustainable energy," she says. "I loved meeting new people, and immersing myself in a different university."

Having enrolled with a University Entrance Scholarship for her high school results, Jessie spent her first two years living at College House where she was the Sport Captain, and arranged a sport exchange with Rochester and Rutherford Hall and Selwyn College with University of Otago.

"I loved the people! I have met so many friends for life, and have loved the atmosphere and feel of the place. I chose UC because I loved the campus feel."

Jessie"s love of the great outdoors saw her take part in GODZone 2018 with a team of UC students, sponsored by the College of Engineering. The event involves a multi-day race expedition through the New Zealand wilderness, including navigating rivers, mountains, and forest terrain.

"Being a 10-day race, it is crucial that you go into it well prepared and have all your equipment and food organised for all possibilities during the race. Studying Engineering at UC set us up well to achieve this as it refined these skills. We are incredibly grateful to the College for helping us with this event, and wouldn't have been able to do it without their support.

"Perhaps the most memorable moment was on day 9; we were trekking through the Kepler Mountains and the helicopter flew over and started taking photographs of us from above. We were in the middle of nowhere, exhausted, but with high spirits as the end was in sight. On the second to last checkpoint we were greeted by Brendon Currie – one of New Zealand's greatest multi-sport athletes. And nothing can beat the feeling of crossing the finish line to the cheers of your family and friends."

With her career now underway, Jessie plans to take on more adventures in the engineering industry.

"I hope to lead teams of engineers to design and build infrastructure that the community can really benefit from. Christchurch is such a vibrant city, and I love watching it grow. I want to help drive the city forward, and get projects off the ground."

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