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Student story

Rebecca Till

20 July 2023

"There are so many different ground conditions to consider during the design process..."


Bachelor of Engineering with Honours in Civil Engineering

Studying towards a Master of Civil Engineering with an endorsement in Geotechnical Engineering

Why Geotechnical Engineering?

I find Geotechnical Engineering particularly interesting as there are so many different ground conditions to consider during the design process throughout New Zealand and the world, so I will always be able to learn more skills. Geotechnical engineers are also often involved early in projects which I enjoy being able to help develop a design and plan moving forward.

What’s it like in the MCivilEng programme?

I really enjoy the range of courses on offer and the ability to study papers both within and outside of my chosen discipline. This allows me to study courses such as cost engineering and flood management. Within the Geotechnical specialisation, there is a range of course options including geomorphology and ground improvement techniques.

The Engineering department at UC is really developed and has many methods of helping the students at any point in their studies. The calibre of resources with labs and field trips has really helped me get involved with hands-on learning.

When did you first discover Geotechnical Engineering?

I was always interested in engineering as a career path, and during my first year at Uni settled on Civil Engineering as my specialisation. My second summer internship was at Tonkin + Taylor which is a geotechnical engineering firm, where I developed my interest and realised this is what I wanted to continue studying.

Did your undergrad years prepare you for that?

The Bachelor of Engineering is a good base for any specialisation. This course allowed me to explore geotechnical engineering as well as structural, fluids, and environmental engineering to become a well-rounded civil engineer and discover for myself which specialisations I was particularly interested in.

During the Bachelor’s degree I would advise students to keep your options open and try to build a broad knowledge base.

So what brought you to UC initially?

I always knew I wanted to study Engineering, so it came down to Auckland and Christchurch. Although initially I was keen to move away from home, I decided that Christchurch was a better fit for me with a more relaxed vibe and opportunities for adventure with mountains and beaches within an hours’ drive.

I was still able to have independence by moving to Ilam Apartments in my first year as a good intermediate step between home and flatting; still having independence and cooking your own food, but also having the social network available.

How have you found the community at UC?

I have been involved in a variety of clubs at UC, including Student Volunteer Army, Canterbury University Snow Sports Club (CUSSC), UC Hockey Club, and Women in Engineering Society (WiE). In particular I have been on the committee for CUSSC and UC Hockey Club.

For CUSSC I was heavily involved in their Canterbury Snow Sale, which is a second-hand ski gear sale which fundraises for the club. It required a lot of time and energy, but was a great experience and I learnt a lot about how to manage a large team and to run a successful event.

I am also involved with UC Hockey Club, initially as a player since 2017, but also becoming a manager and a member of the committee in recent years.

Sounds like you’ve found the best of both worlds at uni!

I love meeting new people through club events as well as keeping active throughout my studies. Outside of hockey and skiing, I have taken up running and recently completed by first half marathon.

To de-stress I enjoy reading and spending time with my sister.

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