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Student story

Quinn Hornblow

20 July 2023

"Managing the balance of natural resources for industry and recreation has been with me for a while now..."


Bachelor of Engineering with Honours in Natural Resources Engineering, and a Diploma in Global Humanitarian Engineering

Quinn's first exposure to Natural Resource Engineering came from family ties to the Horticulture Industry, with his first job maintaining and installing wireless controls for irrigation lines on an apple orchard. The experience inspired him to find more effective ways to use technology to interact with the environment.

"My interest in these subjects comes from the world around me," he says. "Managing the balance of natural resources for industry and recreation has been with me for a while now."

He had initially enrolled in environmental management studies at Otago Uni, before finding that he preferred the engineering aspect of using natural resources.

"I really enjoyed the subjects; hydrology, geomorphology, ecology, but I was missing the design and build side of things. After first year I decided to make the switch to Engineering and transferred to Canterbury. Natural Resource Engineering allowed me to continue studying those same subjects but in more applied way."

The practical approach in Natural Resources Engineering was the perfect combination of science and problem-solving he wanted, especially with field trips in the region.

"I think of engineering as the application of scientific knowledge in design. It's that chance to take well cited information and apply it to the real world in a creative way. With Natural Resource Engineering all the designs are tangible, they're all sites you can get outside and observe - that's what makes it even more interesting to me.

"One of the main things I enjoy is UC's involvement with wider Christchurch and Canterbury. As a student it's pretty cool to have field trip locations close by. It filters down from the staff as well, whether they bring local examples into their lectures or when you overhear them talking about projects they have been working on nearby."

Along the same lines, another motivating factor for switching to UC was the "surf, mountains, and snow all right on your doorstep" for recreational activities. As someone who enjoys studying the environment, Quinn spends a lot of his spare time in the great outdoors.

"I think it's really beneficial to regularly get out and away from uni. I like a good variety, and it changes with the season of course. In the summer I do a lot of rock climbing and trail running. I even competed in a few Ultra Marathons last year. Winter means mountaineering.

"More recently I've been getting into adventure racing and doing some local rogaine events. It's a good laugh to be running around with a group of mates trying to find checkpoints on a map."

He ended up being sponsored by the College of Engineering to enter GodZone 2018, with a group of other Engineering graduates, as the "next big challenge".

Quinn's other big project from studying was being the president of Engineers without Borders Canterbury, a not-for-profit branch for Engineering students and professionals wanting to improve the livelihood of communities through engineering knowledge.

"It's a national organisation with the vision to provide everyone with access to the engineering knowledge and resources required to live a life of opportunity free from poverty," he says. "Here at UC we have a tight knit executive that helps to support the national organisation and also spread the word on campus. We do a lot of things from long term projects with partners in the Pacific, a conference and workshops, high school visits, and design competitions for students. It's a rewarding organisation to be a part of."

It's this same idea that lead Quinn to also take on the Diploma in Global Humanitarian Engineering, which allowed him to shape his studies around international human welfare efforts. Quinn was able to put his skills into action with a study trip to Nepal during his second year.

"We joined a group of Australian students for series of in-country workshops and language lessons, then got the chance to travel to some pretty remote villages to learn about their way of life.

"It was such an eye opening experience to see first-hand how foreign aid influences these places. It has given me an appreciation for the importance of community consultation, not just overseas but on local projects here in New Zealand too."

Quinn ultimately hopes that his future career will create a positive change in our interactions with global environmental issues.

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