Encouraging diversity in electrical engineering

15 April 2019

A new focus on promoting and supporting women into electrical engineering study and the wider electrical engineering industry has been announced by the Electric Power Engineering Centre (EPECentre).

  • Scholars in Electrical Lab

    EPECentre scholar Laura Harding (centre) believes that “in engineering – and specifically design – you need different viewpoints or you will miss out on a lot of opportunities.”

A new focus on promoting and supporting women into electrical engineering study and the wider electrical engineering industry has been announced by the Electric Power Engineering Centre (EPECentre).

The EPECentre was established as a research centre of excellence to meet industry research needs, promote the education of power engineers and support excellence in the study of power engineering.

To help encourage the pipeline of electrical engineering graduates, the Centre established a scholarship programme in 2014, which has been very successful. From 2019, the EPECentre will reserve half of all scholarships for women to help create a more balanced gender representation in the electrical engineering course of study at UC, which will also extend to greater diversity in the industry long term. This also aligns with the Diversity Agenda objectives, of which UC College of Engineering is a founding partner, aimed at recruiting and retaining more women in the fields of Engineering and Architecture.

EPECentre scholar Laura Harding, in her third year of study at UC in 2018, welcomes a focus on greater diversity. “There are about five girls in my course, as well as a number of exchange students and visiting lecturers, which give us more of a global view.

“In engineering – and specifically design – you need different viewpoints or you will miss out on a lot of opportunities. While there still aren’t a huge percentage of women in engineering yet, girls shouldn’t be put off; it’s a really welcoming place to study.”

There are eight UC EPECentre Undergraduate Scholarships of up to $14,000 for school leavers and up to six scholarships, available each year, of up to $12,000 for UC students in following years of study. Students will receive a stipend for each of their years of undergraduate study, assuming they are still eligible each year.

As well as financial assistance, the EPECentre scholarships provide a holistic programme of support. A key part of this is leveraging the Centre’s extensive industry network to help smooth the students’ transition into the workforce. This includes a number of networking events throughout the year, such as industry talks and practice interviews, which often lead to internships and graduate jobs, as well as mentoring opportunities. The EPECentre also organises an annual week-long power systems field trip, with the itinerary alternating between the North and South Island each year.

EPECentre scholar Hugh Hendrickson, in his fourth and final year of undergraduate study in 2018, says these additional benefits make all the difference. “The EPECentre scholarship was really attractive because of the constant support throughout the degree, including monetary support and industry opportunities.

“The careers evening, where graduates come in and share their experiences, was really helpful. It was also very interesting hearing from industry representatives where New Zealand is headed in terms of power generation and transmission.

“If you get a chance, definitely go for the EPECentre scholarship – it’s awesome for making contacts and helping with employment at the end of your studies.”

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