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Student story

Laura Harding

20 July 2023

"Electrical and Electronic Engineering is an incredibly broad subject..."


Bachelor of Engineering with Honours in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, with a minor in Power Engineering

Graduate Engineer, Beca

"I enjoy that engineering is really about people," Laura says of her studies and now career in Electrical and Electronic Engineering.

A degree specialising in Power Engineering has set Laura on a path to help shape our future use, and generation, and distribution of electrical power systems.

"This involves a lot of problem solving as the population grows; electricity demands increase, and new technologies such as solar power and electric vehicles eventuate. In addition to this, the government has set an aim to transition New Zealand to 100% renewable generation by 2035," she says.

Participating in an E-Week event at UC helped Laura first discover Electrical and Electronic Engineering. This week-long visit for high school students gave her an early tour of UC's facilities and an insight to the type of work the engineering industry offers.

"I really enjoyed the substation site visit and the time we spent in the University's High Voltage Lab while we were there, so I started to seriously consider electrical engineering and found it to be a pretty good fit with what I was interested in."

Taking on the STAR course ECON 199 while still at school was another way for Laura to explore her study options while getting a head start to her degree.

"It gave me a lot of confidence going into university the following year by knowing how the courses ran and the difference between university assessments and NCEA," she says.

Starting her degree with a large number of scholarships was also a 'big plus' when it came to officially enrolling at UC. Along with a UC Undergraduate Entrance Scholarship and a UC Emerging Leaders Developing Programme Scholarship recognising her academic and leadership potential, she was also awarded a Helen Macmillan Brown Bursary funding her first year living at Rochester and Rutherford Hall.

Laura also received a UC Engineering Top Scholars Award and a UC Electric Power Engineering Centre Scholarship in support of her degree, and went on to earn a PSC Scholarship during her final year in recognition of her passion and future contribution to the industry.

"Electrical and Electronic Engineering is an incredibly broad subject; throughout my time at Uni I have studied power systems, control systems, communications and signals, embedded systems, electronics and power electronics, and nanotechnology.

"The further I have gotten through my degree the more areas I have found that have interested me. My degree has covered a lot of theoretical knowledge, but we have also been able to see the more human side of engineering through our design courses and the management paper in third year. It's fun to get a chance to think more broadly rather than only learning purely technical information."

She recalls the practical placements as being one of the most beneficial parts of the programme, with her own experiences including a field trip to sites around the North Island with EPECentre, and work at both ElectroNet Transmission Ltd in Nelson and Mitton ElectroNet in Christchurch.

"All my classmates and I really enjoyed our respective internships as we got to apply what we learnt in class and all learnt something different," she says.

In her final years, Laura was able to put her expertise towards the UC Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Student Branch (UC IEEE), with roles as secretary and later chairperson.

"It's been a great way to meet other people from different year groups and industry members. In 2019 we held ANZSCON, an annual conference for committee members of IEEE student and young professional branches throughout Australia and New Zealand, where our branch got to meet similar committees from around New Zealand and overseas."

Laura's other hobbies in yachting, swimming, and road cycling also take up her spare time in the great outdoors. 

Now graduated, Laura is embarking on her career with a graduate role in the Power System Engineering team at Beca, an engineering consultancy.

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