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Engineering student joins illustrious list

9 December 2004

Engineering student joins illustrious list of great New Zealanders

University of Auckland engineering graduate Richard Beal will soon follow in the footsteps of other great New Zealanders by packing his bags and heading to Oxford to further his studies.

Richard, who has just completed a Bachelor of Engineering in Chemical and Materials Engineering, is one of only three students nationwide to be awarded a 2005 Rhodes Scholarship to study at the English speaking world's oldest academic institution.

Rhodes scholarships constitute the pinnacle of achievement for university graduates wishing to pursue postgraduate study and are awarded after a rigorous selection process. Proven intellectual and academic ability of a high standard is the first quality required of applicants, but they are also required to show integrity of character, interest in and respect for their fellow beings, the ability to lead and the energy to use their talents to the full.

Fourteen of the 36 Rhodes Scholars selected over the last 12 years have been from The University of Auckland.

Richard, who is described by his lecturers at University as an excellent, all-round, high achieving scholar with strong sporting interests and cultural and community involvement, intends to undertake a DPhil in the Department of Materials Science at Oxford focusing on sustainable energy technologies.

"I want to work on third generation solar cells. These cells differ significantly from the first two generations in that they are based on titanium dioxide instead of silicon. This makes them far cheaper and eventually they should be easier to mass produce."

His goal is to return to New Zealand well-versed in solar-cell technology so he can implement sustainable energy projects here.

In his time at The University of Auckland, Richard has won many scholarships and awards and spent a semester last year at the prestigious University of California, Berkeley, as a result of one such achievement.

A former dux of Rosehill College, he gained an A-plus grade in a university calculus paper while still at secondary school, before achieving an outstanding bursary examination result.

Richard says studying engineering was an obvious choice for him as he enjoyed maths and physics at school and "the wide range of skills you gain from an engineering degree had great appeal".

"It's amazing what an engineering degree can help you achieve in terms of being able to make people's lives better. I've really enjoyed my studies at The University of Auckland and find chemical and materials engineering very exciting."

And he doesn't spend all his time working on engineering projects either. The all-rounder enjoys badminton, both as a player and coach and has been a member of a Slazenger Cup-winning Counties Manukau team as well as being selected for the NZ Universities' Mens Badminton Team.

Richard's cultural interests span acting, debating, public speaking and music. He is a member of the Auckland University choir Campus Cantoris and completed several music courses as part of his studies.

Richard says his school motto of pursuing personal excellence has served him well.

"To me it's really about being the best I can be and just trying to be a good person generally."

And it's not all talk either. In high school, Richard was the student rep on the board of trustees and helped set up a peer tutoring scheme. He says he wants to continue to work on projects that will help people and the environment.


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