Heather Harper

'I had no idea forestry was such a diverse sector...'

  • Heather Harper

Studying towards a Bachelor of Engineering with Honours in Forest Engineering


Why has Forest Engineering appealed to you?

Forest Engineering combines my interests perfectly: I love physics, maths, and trees! 

I really like the idea of working with nature rather than against it – forests provide so many products and services that managing them well means huge benefits for us and future generations. I decided a degree in Forest Engineering will give me the skills to do just that, especially in New Zealand with our unique and important forestry sector.

So what brought you down to UC from Wellington?

UC is the only university that offers Forest Engineering in Australasia, but I would say that UC is a good choice for almost any degree. Christchurch is full of new opportunities for me, and I wanted the new experience of moving away from home. I also liked that UC has a massive range of clubs to get involved in outside of courses. 

Which clubs have you got into?

I got quite enthusiastic at Clubs Day and signed up for lots of clubs, but the ones I have enjoyed most are UCM (University of Canterbury Motorsport, where we build an electric racing car) and CUTC (the Canterbury University Tramping Club). 

The cars built by UCM are inspiring and I can’t wait to have a part in them, so far I’ve been learning things like CAD from older students and helping with sanding. Before Christchurch I’d never been on a tramp, but CUTC was very welcoming and I’ve had a great time in the weekends. 

Sounds like you’ve got the overall uni package! How has everything been going so far?

I’m really enjoying my courses. Since Forest Engineering matches my interests so well, most of what I’m learning has been exciting and thought-provoking.  And my lecturers are great; it definitely comes across how passionate they are about their subject. 

I’ve met so many diverse people in clubs, courses, and my hall. At UC I’ve felt like I have so many new possibilities both in my degree and outside it. 

Tell us about the kind of study you get to do in your degree.

Forest Engineering is the best of both worlds between Forestry and Engineering. Engineering is a lot of fun because there’s so many people to talk to who are learning the same thing as you, and there’s all sorts of support with your degree and courses. The School of Forestry is smaller, so you get a sense of community and knowing everybody, including the lecturers and older-years. 

My Forestry course is much smaller than my Engineering courses, so I feel involved in the lectures and labs and I’ve made great friends. I love the content I’m learning; I’ve always enjoyed maths and physics, but my Forestry course has been my favourite. I had no idea forestry was such a diverse sector, and looking at all the social, political, economic, and biological factors in forests is fascinating. 

What do you recommend for others wanting to go into a forestry degree?

I think there is a place for everyone in forestry. The two main paths at UC into forestry are Forestry Science and Forest Engineering, and they each have a different mix of subjects and courses that form the degree. I recommend looking into the course descriptions (all the information is available on the UC website) to see what you might enjoy. 

Definitely contact the School of Forestry if you have any questions, even if you’re not sure what to ask, they are very friendly and know lots! 

Where do you hope your degree will take you?

It’s hard to know what the jobs in forestry are like until I try them, which is why I’m so excited for the summers in my degree. All Engineering degrees include work experience, but my forestry scholarship (Ngā Karahipi Uru Rākau) from the Ministry of Primary Industries connects with companies looking for interns every summer. 

I’m looking forward to building up real workplace skills and having an informed direction for my career before the end of my degree.

Chloe mckenzie

Chloe McKenzie

'Working in a variety of roles allowed me to understand some of the broader aspects of engineering...'

Will Jones

Will Jones

'We would often see examples of things we were learning about in class right here in Christchurch...'