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Girls go for engineering, employers and graduates agree

5 February 2013

Girls go for engineering, employers and graduates agree

Girls should go for engineering, says Victoria Walch, a successful graduate of Wellington Institute of Technology’s Bachelor of Engineering Technology. Ms. Walch, aged 23 from Napier, says that young women should not be put off a career in engineering or see it as a male orientated field.

Ms. Walch majored in civil engineering and completed a project on raw water management of the Waiwhetu stream in the Hutt Valley for her degree.

She says she was well-received as a woman while gaining workplace experience and is looking forward to a career in civil engineering.
“Engineering is a male-dominated industry, but it’s not necessarily hands-on in the sense of dirty work, it’s a broad industry,” says Ms. Walch. She chose to study in Wellington at WelTec’s Petone campus as it is only one of two Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics nationally that offers all three majors (civil, mechanical and electrical) in the New Zealand Diploma of Engineering and Bachelor of Engineering Technology. These are engineering qualifications which have been identified as being in high demand by employers.
According to the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ) website women make up only 13% of engineers in New Zealand and 7% of Chartered Professional Engineers.
Sunethra Pitawala, tutor of mechanical engineering at the Wellington Institute of Technology, herself an honours graduate in production engineering, sees young women who study engineering being particularly successful in their careers. “Female engineers do very well with many going on to lead companies, becoming directors working at very high levels. If you are a creative thinker engineering could be an excellent career choice for you. This industry is definitely not boring and there are many disciplines to choose from.”
Mike Kerr, Wellington Regional Manager for Beca and Chair of WelTec’s Engineering Advisory Committee, one of the largest engineering and related consultancy companies in the Asia-Pacific region says, “It is encouraging to see women like Victoria entering our industry and not being put off by the perceived male dominance. Engineering is a good industry to be getting into and Beca is very keen to employ female graduates.
“There is a big skills shortage of qualified engineers in New Zealand at all levels of the industry. If women successfully complete a diploma or degree in engineering there is a very high likelihood they will get a well-paid job at the end of their studies,” says Mr. Kerr.
This year WelTec has been awarded additional funding to meet the Government’s call for more engineers with 60 more places available on diploma and degree programmes.
Ms. Walch will attend her graduation in Wellington on Thursday night at the end of this week and the ceremony will recognise the first graduating class of WelTec’s Bachelor of Engineering Technology degree.


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