Stu­dents to bridge engi­neer­ing gap

Kapi-Mana News - - OUT & ABOUT - LAURA DOONEY

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.

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