Perceptions of Engineering from our presenters

Our Engineering Info Evenings give you a chance learn more about Engineering and what career opportunities it could give you.

Whether you’re ready to apply or know nothing about the discipline, chances are you have an idea of what Engineering might be. You’ll be hearing from our academics and our graduates across the sessions, and they’ve all seen their perceptions of Engineering and their role within it change.

“It’s more than building bridges”

The idea that engineers just build bridges is a stereotype we often hear. Most students find out during their first year just how many different opportunities there are within engineering. Now a Developer at TradeMe, Aorthi Afroza learnt this lesson even earlier.

“I only really thought of civil and mechanical engineering when people mentioned engineering, which usually involves bridges and construction and roadworks,” she said. “It wasn't until my physics teacher started telling us about all the different kinds of engineering that were out there that I realised how broad it was and that it was really more about problem solving.”

“Engineering has a humanitarian side”

Each discipline within Engineering has a role to play when it comes to facing some of the challenges present in the modern world, in preserving and fostering our natural environments or helping to advance and support a modern way of life. Dr Kelly Blincoe, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Electrical, Computer, and Software Engineering, believes that empathy will be a valuable trait for future engineers as they work towards solving a range of problems on varying scales.

“Our world is much more interconnected than it was 20 years ago when I started studying engineering,” she said. “To truly succeed as an engineer, you need to be able to work with others, to think outside of the box, and to have empathy. You aren’t always solving your own problems, so you need to understand why other people’s problems are important and put yourself in their shoes to really create solutions that will be useful for them.”

“Engineering tests more than your technical skills”

The idea that the next generation of engineers will need soft skills to support their technical ability was brought up by Civil Engineering Lecturer Dr Colin Whittaker too. We asked him what he thinks engineering will mean to the next generation of students he’ll be teaching.

“I think that the next generation is inheriting some very interesting challenges,’ he said. “I think that strong technical skills will be necessary but not sufficient to succeed in the future. Tomorrow’s engineers will need to use innovative technology to obtain outcomes that allow communities and the natural environment to thrive.”

“Engineering gives you the skills to make your own opportunities”

Ang Nayyar is one of our Software Engineering graduates and is now the CEO and Founder of Strufit, a company that allows you to try shoes on virtually. He says that the skills he developed as a student set him up for success when pursuing new and innovative ventures like this.

“Engineering involves a broad set of problem solving abilities and communication skills which can be applied to achieve basically anything,” he says. “I never actually went into a traditional engineering role. I spent some time leading technology at a shoe company before going full time on my own venture. Throughout these roles and even today, I still use the principles I learnt.”

“You get to really help you to help others”

Dr Tūmanako Fa’aui — now a lecturer at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering — had a slightly different experience. “My dad is a civil engineer too, so what I expected was what I got!”, he jests.

“For a while, it was very much big classrooms and hard hats”, he adds, though his Part IV project while studying here at the University of Auckland was a turning point. “I definitely didn’t expect to be teaching now, but I enjoyed my final year project so much that I ended up going into postgraduate study.”

“I was working on a real problem with real people in Christchurch, looking at the wastewater problems caused by the earthquakes — all whilst it was unfolding. I saw that doing engineering truly involves opportunities to work on real-life problems and contribute to solutions that can really help people.”

“Engineering can be a force for change”

Despite not knowing any engineers while she was in high school and thinking it was all about “rockets, trains and maths”, Mackenzie Round’s perception of engineering grew as she studied with us and into her career as a Mechanical Engineer at Beca.

“The next generation of engineers are going to be a powerhouse for positive societal and environmental change. Growth mindsets and commitment to making the world a better place are going to be crucial in the future of engineering. I'm excited to see what we can achieve!”

Come along to an info event

Our 2022 Engineering Info Evenings will be held online from the 17-19 of May. Head to the registration link to check out the full lineup and get your tickets.