Joel Kavenga

As a BE(Hons) student in Civil Engineering, Joel is seeing the diversity of the field and what it means to society.

“In high school I enjoyed maths and physics, and I realised engineering would be a good career for implementing those two subjects. I wanted to do civil engineering – specifically structural engineering – and there were really only two universities in New Zealand that did it to Engineers New Zealand accreditation standard. That was important to me.

“My first two years were really eye-opening; you take such a broad range of subjects in the first year and even in second year Civil, that you’re able to get a grasp of loads of aspects of life that you had no idea how they worked before… I really enjoyed Structures Day, which is for the Part II Civil students. They show the practical applications of their theory work. So all the theory work that we’ve been doing, we don’t often get a chance to see it in practice until we’re actually in-situ like working for an oil company or something. We were actually able to see quite a lot of the work we’re doing this year being represented in a physical sense. That was definitely a highlight of my study experience.

One of my projects this year was about the MV Rena and her grounding on Astrolabe Reef in the Bay of Plenty. Our challenge was to analyse the economic, cultural, environmental and social impacts that the collision, spillage of oil and cargo, and resulting wreckage had and will have. The affected parameters included health of marine life, tourism/local business and Māori customs. Analysing these parameters allowed us to understand the problem more and gives us better knowledge to implement a more effective solution for the future.

“I’m part of AUES and the Auckland University League of Legends club (it's a gaming thing!). They’ve had some events I’ve been to but I don’t have that much time! A lot of my time is spent studying for tests or doing group projects. I work on a Saturday – I don’t have that much free time! However, I think being able to manage everything is a testament to the fact that engineering students help each other a lot... it's a really supportive place, and a really supportive profession. Engineering is about understanding concepts, so if you help each other out then you'll all make it! 

“The most valuable thing I’m getting out of my studies is a broader knowledge of how the world works; in the first year you get a taste of nine engineering disciplines, so you get an appreciation for how everything works. Another highlight is being independent and learning about things I enjoy, plus meeting a range of people – it’s such a diverse community here.”