'We would often see examples of things we were learning about in class right here in Christchurch...'
Bachelor of Engineering with Honours in Civil Engineering
Graduate Geotechnical Engineer, WSP Opus NZ
As part of the geotechnical consulting team at WSP Opus, Will plays an important part of assessing ground conditions for building projects around Christchurch.
Will’s role involves site work for a range of different projects, from inspections to management. He has so far worked on designs for a retaining wall along the coastline to Kaikōura, an assessment for a new classroom block near the Christchurch redzone, and carried out examinations of the jetties at Lyttleton Port.
‘I find it interesting producing solutions that are the interface between a structure and the earth. Often there could be many solutions that will work, but it’s about finding the best one – particularly when ground conditions can vary greatly from site to site.’
With a job that tackles a number of different conditions, his training from his Civil Engineering degree has helped prepare Will for these varying scenarios.
‘Civil Engineering is a very diverse field. Many of the skills you learn through a Civil Engineering degree at UC can be used to solve a range of problems – I think that’s pretty valuable going forward into the workforce or further study,’ he says. ‘I’m definitely still learning new things every day, but the time management, groupwork, writing, and technical skills have given me a great base for the workplace. It’s been awesome applying the skills I have learnt to real projects.’
He hopes to eventually specialise in a particular area of geotech in his career, and work on important future infrastructure.
‘I would also like to work as a geotechnical engineer overseas at some stage – I think it would be really interesting dealing with geologic conditions different to those found in New Zealand,’ he says.
This idea was partly inspired by a final semester exchange programme to the University of Alberta in the last year of his degree.
‘It was a really cool experience. It was winter for most of my time there which took a bit of getting used to (-30°c one day!). I made the most of the Canadian outdoors through lots of skiing and trekking in the Rockies.
‘There were also heaps of other exchange students from all around the world. It was great to share adventures with them and learn about their cultures and home countries. Having this group made it super easy to fill up a rental car and explore somewhere new. I’ve now got a few contacts dotted around the world that I’ll have to visit at some stage.
‘It was a great to finish off part of my last year overseas. UC was also really helpful in providing some funding for flights.’
Choosing UC in the first place was due to its immediate surroundings, as Will spends much of his spare time in the outdoors, and unique engineering study opportunities.
‘For me, UC was mostly about the location. Having the Port Hills so close for trail running and mountain biking was awesome. Then the Southern Alps a short drive away for bigger trekking, mountain biking and skiing missions has made for a pretty epic four years of study/play.
‘I was also conscious that Christchurch had recently had its earthquakes. As such it would likely be where all the “action” was happening with regard to new technologies and new understandings of how structures and the ground behave during earthquakes. This was definitely the case – we would often see examples of things we were learning about in class right here in Christchurch. Lectures were often industry leaders with regard to earthquake engineering too.’
Will’s enthusiasm for the great outdoors paid off when the College of Engineering sponsored him and a team of UC students to compete in GODZone 2018.
‘GODZone is an expedition style adventure race that involves up to 10 days of nonstop trekking, mountain biking, kayaking, rafting, and navigating off track through the New Zealand Wilderness in teams of four.
‘Although the race requires significant physical fitness to complete, there is also a large mental side to it, where being organised and cunning can save you time and therefore improve your placing. Being a team of engineers, we decided to let our inner nerd out and organised our food packages using Gantt charts to decide when we needed some extra food depending on our timing into a transition. Thanks to UC Engineering, we were well fed through the race!’