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Student story

Russell Wenzlick

20 July 2023

"I enjoy the scale of benefit of the work I do..."


The decision to study engineering at UC was a straightforward one for Russell.

“I’ve always enjoyed inventing, designing, and challenging the status quo. Engineering seemed like a natural progression from my favourite subjects of graphics, physics, and wood technology,” he says.

Natural Resources Engineering offered the ability to think outside the box, while earning a degree of high standard and international relevance.

He explains, “Natural Resources Engineering focuses on problems the world faces and the solutions. To me it’s in contrast to a more traditional form of engineering. The lecturers challenge you to think holistically and consider alternatives. The content of the courses includes water resources, soil, stormwater management and treatment, water chemistry, wastewater treatment, energy generation, and irrigation.

“Auckland and Christchurch offered the course I wanted to study, but quite simply, Christchurch has a fantastic outdoor scene,” he says.

As an outdoor enthusiast, Russell also helped other students get out and explore as part of the executive committee for the Canterbury University Tramping Club.

“Christchurch is the gateway to the mountains, and UC has heaps of clubs to get out there with like-minded people!”

Russell notes that field trips are a great way to connect beyond the classroom with his peers.

“The Natural Resources programme holds a road trip around the South Island for 2nd and 3rd year students to learn about innovative or impactful engineering projects, like hydropower stations, irrigation schemes, solar energy generation, wastewater treatment plants, and waterway rehabilitation.”

Engineering is a challenging and rewarding degree, so Russell’s advice is to reach out to career advisors or people working in engineering or sciences when researching courses. There is plenty of support available at UC and this includes talking to your lecturers.

He says, “the opportunity to build relationships with my lecturers gave them the chance to explore my strengths and areas of interest and support me to get to where I wanted to go.”

For someone as enterprising as Russell, being awarded the Roger Harris (Waihou Valley Scheme) Scholarship from the Waikato Regional Council in his final year helped see his studies through.

Now, he works as a Graduate Civil Engineer at GHD, a global professional services company operating in the water, energy, resources, environment, property and buildings, and transportation sectors. Russell’s role involves planning future water infrastructure, designing, and occasionally sitework.

“I work with other engineers, scientists, and planners to solve infrastructure problems. There is a variety of projects to work on, which range from a small input that may take a day, up to being part of projects that are years long. It can be detailed design, researching, modelling, report writing, investigations, onsite supervising construction, managing people, client communications, project management, and preparing bids for more projects!

“I wanted to be able to see the end result of what I’ve been a part of. I enjoy the scale of benefit of the work I do and that I am working for my local community.”

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