Generous gift fosters interest in New Zealand’s geothermal industry

A recent field trip to key geothermal sites in the central North Island was made possible thanks to the generous support of one of our alumni.

Just over 30 students from a Geothermal and Reservoir Engineering course led by Professor Rosalind Archer attended the trip. Its purpose was to give students some exposure to the New Zealand industry outside of regular classroom teaching, including natural geothermal features and the processing facilities that turn it into electricity.

The first stop was at the Waiotapu geothermal area to see natural geothermal features such as the “Champagne Pool” and the eruption of the Lady Knox Geyser. Then, an overview of how steam is turned into electricity was delivered by staff from the Contact Energy plant at Wairakei at the nearby public lookout. The next stop was at GNS Science, where the students were given a guest lecture on geological and geophysical exploration and the types of technology that enable us to see underground during these processes.

Finally, the group stopped at MB Century, a drilling company that specialises in geothermal and energy solutions. The company had an example of one of its drilling rigs on site in the car park, which gave students an insight into the type of technology used in the industry. A lecture given by members of MB Century’s staff described how the drilling process works here and showcased the innovative Kiwi technology that is essential to their business.

The trip took place thanks to alumnus Graham Wheeler, who has had a professional background in the geothermal industry and who saw an opportunity to support the next generation. Graham was originally considering annual funding of a scholarship when he took the idea to Professor Archer and Alumni Relations Development Manager Paul Cunningham.

“Graham, me and Paul sat down over coffee a couple of times to brainstorm what would be the best way to really create some impact,” Professor Archer explained. “We conjured up this idea of a trip to stimulate interest in the geothermal industry, which the University could not currently fund, nor many individual students.”

Graham was enthusiastic in his support because he considered students needed to be exposed to on-site situations to better appreciate the environmental benefits and technical challenges inherent in evaluating and developing geothermal resources.

Gifts such as this one from Graham Wheeler show the different ways people can give back to the university. These gifts are important to both staff and students and can provide validation for years of hard work.

“I think it really is important recognition of the value that our programmes and our people create,” Professor Archer says. “To have someone out there, outside the university, who wants to support that really helps the whole conversation that what we do matters.”

If you would like to find out how you can support students and staff at the Faculty of Engineering, please contact our Development Manager Paul Cunningham.

Support Enquiries 

Paul Cunningham | Development Manager
Tel: 09 923 7599
Mob: 021 264 9086