Getting to know Irene
Electrical and Electronic Engineering, with a Minor in Power
What prompted your return to study?
In my working life I’d gone from hospitality to admin and finance, but in my heart, I really wanted to do something technical. I knew engineers were needed and I thought – I still have 30+ years of career ahead of me.
Did you leave your job to come back to study?
Yes, I did. For me, financial stability was a big concern, so my husband and I took the time to save up first. The way I see it, a degree is a three- or four-year commitment and then it’s done. So, if you plan for it, you’ll be fine.
Why did you choose UC?
I’d heard that UC had the best engineering program in New Zealand. Also, UC offers a minor in Power Engineering.
Power engineering sounds interesting, what exactly is that?
It's a branch of engineering that focuses on the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity. I find it really fascinating. I enjoy seeing how everything works together and figuring out how to overcome the challenges. It's a rapidly changing field too, which keeps things exciting.
What are you enjoying most about your program?
I love how connected it is to industry. The EPECentre has so many networking opportunities. Our lecturers bring in lots of former students to talk to us. It's amazing to see how many UC electrical students are out there. You feel a real bond, like once you finish your studies, you’re going to be part of a really strong group.
Do those industry connections open up job opportunities as well?
Absolutely. In engineering you have to complete professional hours as part your degree. I got to do a summer internship at Meridian Energy, and I have been offered a graduate role with Mitton Electronet. You’re presented with a lot of opportunities, not to mention useful skills for the job.
How have you enjoyed the campus experience?
I love the campus. You can tell it’s been designed with students in mind. Simple things like having lots of power outlets and a place to heat up your lunch make it a very welcoming place to be. The labs are world-class and available for students to use. It’s amazing.
Any parting thoughts for women consider engineering?
Please come and do it! We’re designing the network that we're all going to use. We need diversity at the drawing board to reflect that. Don't worry if you don't conform to the stereotype. If you want to do it, you can.
Is it different being an adult student?
You're a bit more serious about things as an adult student. I've put the rest of my life on hold to be here, so I'm really motivated to do a good job. You also appreciate your achievements a lot more. Every little goal you reach feels great.
How will getting this degree make a difference for your life?
I still have a long journey ahead of me. I'll be starting in a graduate role so there will be plenty of support for me starting out. Engineering is a field where you're constantly learning. I'm really looking forward to that.
Any advice for others thinking about returning to study?
Definitely plan! And engage with people at the university. If you’re unsure about anything, just ask for help –
it's there for you.