Kate Tinnelly

'Geology is evolving, so there are unique opportunities in the field...'

  • Kate tinnelly

Bachelor of Science in Geology with an endorsement in Environmental Science

Postgraduate Diploma in Engineering Geology*

Graduate Geotechnical Engineer, BHP Billiton, Australia

‘Being such a new science, Geology is evolving and new things are being discovered all the time, so there are unique opportunities in the field,’ says Kate, who specialises in Engineering Geology.

‘Engineering Geology is interesting in the sense that we are the middlemen between the engineers and the ground. We interpret the ground and provide the numbers for the engineers to use in the building of structures.’

Kate says she always enjoyed the natural side of geography at high school and was keen to focus on this at university.

‘Geology appealed to me because it is such a practical degree and has a range of different aspects and real-life applications, from natural disasters to mining,’ she says, adding: ‘It is quite a different degree so you really have to love it to do well in it.’

Having completed her undergraduate degree she chose to specialise in Engineering Geology at postgraduate level.

‘The BSc is only three years long, so completing a postgrad year meant I could specialise in one area. This gave me opportunities to work with industry programmes and industry professionals, effectively making the step from study to professional life a lot easier.’

Kate is set to take on a job as a graduate engineer in the mining industry in Australia to gain valuable experience before returning to New Zealand.

‘My plan is to eventually get into a higher management position in a large firm, and potentially start up my own geotechnical consulting company one day,’ she says.

Hailing from Greymouth, Kate attended high school as a boarder in Christchurch, and wanted to stay in the city while she attended university. She found that UC offered a welcoming experience all round.

‘I liked the sense of family and community at Canterbury – I think that was what made me enjoy my university experience the most. From its social scene to its academic side, there were always people around to talk to and get help when I needed it. The events that happen are a good break from all the study, and provide good connections with the lecturers.

‘Academically, having such a tight-knit department in Geology was what kept me studying. Going on week-long field trips meant I got to know my fellow students really well and I have made lifelong friends from that.

‘Another benefit is that the staff in the department know who we are personally, so they really care about how we are doing and help us to get the most out of our university experience.’

* This is now offered as a Professional Master of Engineering Geology

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