EDUCATION LINKS CASE STUDY

Making a career change

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Changing career is a big commitment. For Amy Sutherland it involves three years’ study while raising children, but she’s enthusiastic about the opportunities to pursue her passion for the environment through engineering.

Next step on a learning journey

With a childhood interest in maths and Lego, Amy was always keen on structures and systems and how they affect our lives.  She completed a Bachelor of Science and Primary Teaching and taught for a number of years before spending time at home with her small children.

After returning to the paid workforce in other roles, Amy decided to take the next step on her learning journey. Looking for a career where she could apply her skills and interest in the environment, she decided on engineering.

Practical problem-solving with real-life scenarios

“I chose engineering because I wanted something more practical – using problem-solving skills with real life scenarios. Engineering is using applied science rather than pure knowledge to solve real life problems.”

Amy considered the various engineering study pathways and decided the Bachelor of Engineering Technology (BEngTech) was the ideal choice.  “It’s in between the diploma and honours degree and is a good combination of applied science and scientific knowledge.”

Amy is now in her second year at WelTec, studying towards a BEngTech in Civil Engineering. She is particularly interested in the utilisation of water as a natural resource.

I’m interested in the changing uses of water

“Water is so accessible, it’s an intrinsic part of our daily lives and is almost an invisible resource, but it impacts on everything we do.  Water supply influences where you live, where you build, it impacts everything we work on and everything we touch.  Roads, bridges, sewerage systems, pipelines – the design, construction and maintenance of the physical environment is influenced by water.”

 “I’m interested in the changing uses of water and looking at water as a resource, as a highly valued commodity.  I’m keen to engage in a dialogue with people about the impact of their activities on water usage and look at how that influences the natural and built environment.”

2018 Graduate Women Wellington Scholarship winner

Amy was recently awarded the 2018 Graduate Women Wellington Scholarship which goes towards her 2018 student fees.

WelTec Director Academic Dr Ruth Anderson says, “Amy was an outstanding candidate amongst many other talented young women who competed for the Graduate Women Wellington Scholarship.  She demonstrates strong leadership, a commitment to her chosen profession, and an ability to make a significant contribution to engineering and the wider community.”

Using science to make an impact on people’s lives

While BEngTech graduates can expect to find well paid jobs, Amy says the main reason she chose the qualification was that opportunity to help the community. “The study is like a coming together of two streams, environmental science and my other area of teaching and parenting – working with people.”

“It’s about the way we live in the environment, how the environment affects us, and engineers using science to make an impact on people’s lives.”

It’s always a risk to step into a different field

Asked for her advice to anyone considering a career change, Amy is enthusiastic about the opportunities. “It’s always a risk to step into a different field, but I’d encourage older people and parents to take a chance – study something that’s close to your passion and strengths.”

While Amy has financial assistance this year, she notes that some classmates are able to fund their studies through cadetships or part-time work in the industry. She may look for employment opportunities over the summer break.

Our thanks to Amy and WelTec for their time and advice; if you have any queries please contact engineeringe2e@tec.govt.nz

March 2018

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