Alvin Li

  • Alvin Li

PEET/EPECentre Undergraduate Scholar 2017-2020

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Published March 2021

Briefly describe yourself

Kia ora! My name is Alvin, and I graduated in 2020. I love a good adventure, so I enjoy exploring new places and meeting new people. In my free time, I like jamming on the piano, playing football, and making videos.

Why did you choose to study at UC and why electrical/power engineering?

Growing up in Christchurch, I enjoy the outdoors. I wanted to keep up tramping with my mates, and UC was the best place to do that. Engineering at UC is highly regarded, so studying here was a natural choice.

Electricity has always fascinated me. Cool things are happening right now in the power industry, such as renewables and electric vehicles. I wanted to get amongst this space, so I studied Electrical and Electronic Engineering.

What were your highlights while studying EEE?

An engineering highlight would have to be my Final Year Project. My project team worked with Meridian Energy to design a pico-hydro scheme for a remote Nepalese village.

Outside of class, being a Student Volunteer Army executive was a real highlight – making friends with a wide range of students while organising projects for local communities was incredibly special. Another highlight would be my summer exchange to Peking University in Beijing, China.

How have you benefitted from the PEET (EPECEntre) scholarship?

PEET (through the EPECentre) provides a lot of support for their scholars. I was fortunate to be a scholar in my first year at UC and gained insight into the power industry from early on. Opportunities for support included mentoring, networking events, interview practice, and field trips.

What are you up to now? Describe a bit about your job and highlights so far working in the electricity industry:

I am a Graduate Engineer at Transpower New Zealand, the owner and operator of the national grid. A wide range of work happens at Transpower, including technical engineering, site work, project management, and electricity market analysis. As a graduate, I rotate around different areas of the business in my two-year programme.

When choosing your career or finding a job, what were your decision-making criteria?

Do what excites. You spend a lot of time in your life at work, so you should enjoy what you do. For me, the idea of rotating around different business areas at Transpower was exciting. I wanted to gain a broad understanding of the power industry at the start of my career.

Since starting your career, what other benefits have you discovered working for your employer or in the electricity industry in general? Anything that has surprised you?

The people at Transpower are supportive and willing to help – I appreciate that a lot. Because Transpower is the grid owner, I’ve been able to visit a lot of sites. It’s surprising how much you can learn when you’re out in the field. Transpower covers any travelling costs, which is handy!

What excites you about the future of the electricity industry (challenges and opportunities!)? How would you like to contribute to that future?

With a growing concern for climate change, the government has set targets for New Zealand. These targets include 100% renewable electricity by 2030 and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The power industry will play a pivotal role in transitioning New Zealand to a low-carbon economy. With more renewables, and the electrification of heat process and transport, the power industry faces some exciting challenges that I’d love to help solve.

What advice would you give to students thinking about studying engineering, and electrical engineering? Or why should they choose electrical/power engineering?

Make learning front and centre of your university experience. That means knuckling down and trying to get as much out of your degree as possible. However, learning doesn’t just happen in the classroom. Try a new hobby, make some new friends, go somewhere new, or spend time with those you care about – they all help you grow and become a more well-rounded engineer.