Students to bridge engineering gap
Wellington secondary school students got an inside look at the world of engineering this week, as industry insiders attempt to bridge a gap in the industry.
Last Monday marked the beginning of Engineering Week, the first week of its kind in New Zealand.
Over five days 150 students learnt about the myriad opportunities available in the industry at the Beca offices in Thorndon.
It was organised by Opus, Beca, MWH and AECOM.
It was linked to a public awareness campaign launched by the Engineering, Education to Employment programme, which was set up in 2014 to help achieve a government goal to boost engineer numbers.
One exercise saw students designing a floating home for a lake in Cambodia, using straws, water balloons, polystyrene cups and cardboard.
Last year the government said there was a shortage of around 500 technically trained engineers coming through polytechnics each year, but the shortage across the industry could be double that, Beca regional manager Mike Kerr said.
As an organisation Beca had been working to promote engineering for the past 10 years.
‘‘Engineering is involved in all of the bits of our daily interaction with the world, people misconstrue it as just being ... buildings and roads, and it’s absolutely not.’’
Engineering was for anyone who wanted to make a difference to the world around them, engin- eer Nina Ives said.
The 23-year-old felt there was a misconception that girls wouldn’t find engineering as interesting as boys, and that it was only for students at the top of the class.
An interest in maths and physics was important, but students didn’t have to be especially good at either of them, just prepared to work hard.
High schools across Wellington agreed that while they did not necessarily push engineering over other career choices, they were aware the sector was diversifying and getting bigger.
At Tawa College there was an increased emphasis on STEM, science, technology, engineering and mathematics, principal Murray Lucas said.
Every second year engineering firms and ex-students who had entered the field came and talked to students as part of career education.
Beca’s Nina Ives, with students Liam Thompson, Danae AbolinsThompson, and Liv Sawyer.