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Beca scholarship recipient builds "recycled" wheelchair

Engineering a better future

“There is nothing I believe more strongly than getting young people interested in science and engineering, for a better tomorrow, for all humankind.” – Bill Nye (science educator, former mechanical engineer)

Ara student Rebecca Jones lives and breathes this quote. For her, becoming a mechanical engineer means making a difference in other people’s lives and helping them to ‘become the best they can be’.

Last night (15 May) her passion to make the world better through engineering landed her the Beca scholarship of $2,500.

Jones, whose goal it is to get into the prosthetics field after graduating, says the scholarship will help her spend more time working on large projects in her final year of studying instead of working in her part time job.

“This scholarship will help me achieve my goal to become a qualified mechanical engineer and when I head out to the workforce, I can give back to others through what I’ve learnt and achieved while studying.

“I am very passionate about what I do and my love for engineering has grown over time. I really enjoy helping others.

“I want to make a difference to people in their lives with innovative new designs and there is a wide range of opportunity within the field,” says Jones.

For her final year project Jones decided to build a wheelchair out of items that are readily available in developing countries. She was inspired to help after seeing the inaccessibility to wheelchairs during a trip to India.

“We saw so many people in the streets outside hospitals and they didn’t have anything they could use to get around. At the same time there was so much rubbish around, so many different materials and I thought maybe I could build something out of that which could help people.”

This project was part of what impressed the selection committee at Beca about Jones.

Richard Jenkins, Principal - Civil Engineering at Beca, presented the award and says he was impressed with Rebecca’s enthusiasm and commitment to her chosen career path.

“It’s always great to meet people who are passionate about what they do and study, and Rebecca was no exception.

“What made her passion for engineering stand out more were her efforts to make life better for her friends, family and the community.

“She’s an example to her peers, proactively engaging in various activities to better herself and learn more. I hope winning this scholarship encourages her to aim for greater heights as she progresses with her studies and career.”

Jones says she chose to do the Bachelor degree as a stepping stone and has high aspirations for her future.

“Once I finish my study, I want to peruse my dreams of becoming a design and manufacture
engineer for new innovative products. I want to design health care products such as prosthetics, implants, health care products for elderly and wheelchairs. This has been my dream for a very long time.”

The Beca scholarship was awarded for the third time in an awards ceremony at Ara’s Kahakura building.

Ara Institute of Canterbury and Beca have an ongoing relationship through Beca’s active membership of the Employer Programme Advisory Campaign (EPAC). This cooperation enables Ara to receive advice on industry needs and requirements from Beca, feedback on courses and the ability to offer students access to industry events or site visits.


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