'I’m passionate about the value that thoughtful hazard and risk modelling can provide...'
Following an international career as an environmental engineer (mapping flood hazards in South and South East Asia), Michael’s exposure to broader disaster risk projects inspired his recent return to university, to learn more about the bigger picture of risk and resilience.
‘I’m passionate about the value that thoughtful hazard and risk modelling can provide, in terms of helping communities better understand and respond appropriately to the natural hazard processes around them,’ he says.
Looking at similar courses around the world, Michael decided on UC’s Master of Disaster Risk and Resilience programme based on recommendations from professionals in the industry, and made the move to New Zealand to learn from its subject experts in the variety of disciplines the field covers.
‘It’s truly interdisciplinary (not just a buzzword here), manages to squeeze a comprehensive overview of risk & resilience into a single (intense) year, and is taught by a core team of passionate people with lots of practical experience who genuinely care about the subject and their students.’
The programme also had the added benefit of UC’s location in the centre of the South Island, close to key locations for studying hazard processes and risk management.
‘One week you’ll be out in the field looking at critical infrastructure along the West Coast, the next writing an essay on the influence of the neoliberal economic system on disaster risk, and then suddenly you’re scrambling to help coordinate the response to a (simulated) incoming tsunami.
‘No matter what your background, there’ll be some aspects of the programme that consolidate your existing skills and others that get you out of your comfort zone to develop totally new ones.’
Having previously completed Environmental Engineering and Philosophy degrees from universities in Australia and Singapore, returning for more postgrad study in a new country opened up opportunities for Michael to be involved with the vibrant UC community, and also make frequent hiking trips to the Southern Alps.
‘I’ve really enjoyed the experience of being back at university at UC – you have access to world-class facilities, supportive lecturers, and more social clubs than there’s possibly time to get involved with, all in a leafy, attractive campus with a diverse range of students.’
Heading into his new career, Michael is keen to apply his disaster risk reduction skills in meaningful ways, working with communities around the world to reduce the impacts of future disasters.