'I'll have an input into making a difference to our environment...'
Bachelor of Engineering with Honours in Natural Resources Engineering
Maddy has always had a dream of doing volunteer work overseas to improve hygiene and sanitation in a developing community, and becoming a professional engineer will help her to realise that dream.
'It's one of the reasons I am studying Natural Resources Engineering,' she says. 'I think it will make it a realistic goal. The opportunities that an Engineering degree opens up are incredible and the range of jobs I could end up doing and places I could work also excites me. I don't want a pure office job and engineering will let me have a balance between office work, site work and interacting with people, plus I'll have an input into making a difference to our environment.'
Through her engineering work hours – students complete 100 days of practical work placement – Maddy has worked in both contracting and a consultancy, and has decided that she wants eventually to work in a consultancy.
Her final year project involved work with the charity organisation OXFAM NZ, with their Water for Survival initiative, which aims to provide clean water for counties around the Pacific and Southeast Asia with poor sanitary conditions.
‘My project partner and I spent the year holding events to fundraise and raise awareness for this cause which was extremely fulfilling. This taught me more about management and people than it did engineering, but I strongly believe that these skills are crucial to becoming a successful engineer.’
Maddy's internship at Engineering Design Consultants (EDC) saw her experience a range of tasks.
'I was primarily in the environmental team but have also worked with the geotechnical, civil and structural teams at times. I have done preliminary site investigation reports for contaminated land, CAD work, pipe design, site inspections among other jobs. Learning how to use CAD has been really beneficial.'
Shortly before graduating, Maddy secured a full-time role with Engineering Design Consultants Ltd as a Civil and Environmental Engineer, which utilised many of the skills she had already gained through her work experience.
‘I have predominantly worked on small scale subdivisions but have also had experience with larger commercial projects as well. I have experience in three waters design, earthworks design, HEC-HMS modelling, AutoCAD draughting, contaminated land analysis, geotechnical investigations, consent preparation and onsite construction monitoring.’
She was also a committee member, and later a Treasurer and then Chair, for the Christchurch Young Engineers branch of Engineering New Zealand. The committee supports young engineers to become chartered, and provides opportunities such as workshops, networking events, and site visits to help grow skills.
‘My time at UC helped to provide me with a firm foundation of engineering concepts but also helped me to understand that engineering is much more than just the calculations,’ she says. ‘My experiences at UC have helped me develop my soft skills and to form a strong sense of ethics which I have found extremely useful in the working world.’
Currently, Maddy is travelling around South America, and looks forward to gaining more experience using her engineering skills to improve the lives of others.
Originally from Cambridge in the Waikato region, Maddy had two main reasons for choosing UC.
'Firstly, it was known to have the best engineering school, and the second reason was its clubs scene. That's a real point of difference as it creates a student culture unseen at any other uni in New Zealand. It creates a strong community feel and opportunities to make friends. At UC there is a high focus on support for all aspects of your study life, and there is always something happening.
An Excellence in Engineering scholarship winner, Maddy has thrown herself into extra-curricular activities relating to her study.
'I highly recommend being on a club committee as it is so much fun and teaches you so much about yourself and organisation,’ she says.
‘I have been involved in ENSOC as the Faculty Rep, which has been a good challenge and was crucial for my continued involvement with Engineering NZ. I expanded my knowledge in people and event management, teamwork and professionalism working with the University as well as our sponsors. This role was important to me as it gave me the opportunity to give back to the students at UC and provide valuable learning and networking opportunities outside of the degree.
‘I've also been involved in tutoring NCEA Level 1, 2 and 3 for the Excelerate Pasifika programme which was run through UC. It was a cool experience to help younger students and also encourage them to try their hardest and aim to go to university. The students were on the most part very receptive and it was good to see some of them enrol later.'
Maddy admits that an Engineering degree is hard work but enjoys it that way, with the social side of life offsetting the any work pressures.
'You have to be ready to knuckle down and get stuck in. It is hard initially as it's such a change from school, but the 3rd and 4th years are rewarding so keep at it. Find a good balance and don't sacrifice your grades, but definitely try to get as involved as you can in the social aspect of uni. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and try new things, meet new people and enjoy every minute here.'