Chloe McKenzie

'I think Christchurch is the best place in the world to be...'

  • Chloe mckenzie

(Ngāi Tahu)

Bachelor of Engineering with Honours in Civil Engineering

Graduate Civil/Structural Engineer, Opus International Consultants

Chloe believes she could not have picked a better time or place to study as a structural engineer than in post-earthquake Christchurch.

Born and bred in Bluff and educated at Southland Girls’ High School in Invercargill, Chloe was initially leaning towards a career in architecture, but the challenge of designing and building practical structures guided her towards engineering.

‘I love the science, creativity and problem-solving involved,’ she says. ‘I’ve had a passion for structural engineering since Year 12 at high school. After I started the degree my interest only increased.’

UC’s College of Engineering has long had a well-earned reputation nationally and internationally as a premier university to study the profession. Its students now have the benefit of working in the ‘red zone’ of Christchurch’s central business district, analysing, testing and pulling apart structures damaged by the 2010/2011 earthquakes to see what went wrong and how to prevent it happening again.

‘It was the most amazing time to study here,’ Chloe says. ‘I wouldn’t have liked to start a year earlier or a year later.’

In her final Professional year, Chloe was involved in redesigning two pedestrian bridges across the Avon River and was offered a graduate job by Opus International Consultants in its Bridge and Civil Structures Team.

Her work to date has included completing bridge inspections, analysing existing bridges, planning strengthening works and repairs and designing new bridges.

‘I am really enjoying how challenging my job is and I am learning at an accelerated rate. Working in a variety of roles on these projects has allowed me to understand some of the broader aspects of engineering and to follow projects from initiation to completion.’

Chloe is currently working on the Rakaia River Bridge – the longest bridge in New Zealand.

‘We are comparing live data sourced from monitoring equipment with the computer models I have developed. This will help us to develop a long-term monitoring programme for the bridge. It is the first time a project like this has been completed in New Zealand. For me, it has involved learning computer modelling of bridges and a variety of hand calculations. It has tested the knowledge I gained at university and its application in a practical situation.

‘In the long term, I want to become a chartered professional engineer (CPEng) and work on a high profile project like a major bridge or a sky scraper.’

Chloe won a number of scholarships through various organisations, including one from the Ngāi Tahu Research Centre at UC, which took her to Stanford University to study as part of the First Nations’ Futures Program. The Program is an international alliance between Kamehameha Schools (Hawai'i), Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu (Aotearoa New Zealand), Stanford University, and the University of Hawaii at Mānoa. Its partners share a common purpose of improving the well-being of their communities through developing leaders and stewarding their assets, including natural and cultural resources, in perpetuity.

Chloe had a lot of involvement with UC’s Māori Development Team throughout her studies. ‘I have had a lot of support from the Team which has been great,’ she says. ‘I was involved with their mentoring and tutoring programme in my first few years and became a mentor myself.’

Chloe fills any spare time she has with her favourite activities, such as netball, camping, tramping, arts, crafts and cooking.

‘I think Christchurch is the best place in the world to be,’ she says, ‘so I don’t know why you would go anywhere else.’

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