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Student wins Sir Peter Blake youth ambassador scholarship

Canterbury student wins Sir Peter Blake youth ambassador scholarship

September 14, 2014

A University of Canterbury honours mechatronics engineering graduate Angus Watson will use a Sir Peter Blake youth ambassador scholarship to live in the Antarctic for six weeks later this year to collate energy data important to the future of the frozen continent.

Watson wants to maximise efficiency and reduce environmental impact on the ice. He has previously been awarded two scholarships from the Energy Education Trust for his interest in harnessing sustainable energy. He also received a BECA engineering scholarship for his leadership, communication skills and potential to contribute to the engineering profession.

The Antarctic Youth Ambassador programme runs in association with Antarctica New Zealand and the Antarctic Heritage Trust. Watson is one of two young New Zealanders selected to participate in and contribute to the environmental and heritage restoration work in Antarctica this year.

Antarctica is an extraordinarily pristine and natural laboratory for scientists and Watson says researching the hostile environment is critical to gain an understanding of how the world works and the impact humans have on it.

``Due to the frozen continent’s connection with the rest of the planet via oceanic and atmospheric circulations, the Antarctic has a profound effect on the earth’s climate and its future.

``The Antarctic poses a serious passive threat to earth, if global temperatures continue to increase. An estimated 70 percent of the planet’s freshwater is embedded in the Antarctic ice sheet and freshwater that, if melted, has the potential to raise global sea levels by 60 metres.

``The Southern Ocean transports large amounts of heat energy while absorbing substantial amounts of atmospheric carbon dioxide. The factors that determine the weather patterns of our planet are greatly influenced by any Southern Ocean variation.

``The importance of Antarctica is by no means limited to the pressing issue of climate change. Current research offers insights into a multitude of other areas. Marine biologists are studying animals adapting to the harsh conditions, geologists are using rock formations to determine Earth's evolution from Gondwanaland, while astronomers are using the clear skies to study the solar system.

``I can’t wait to get down there. I live and breathe adventure. My passion for pushing the boundaries, while protecting our beautiful planet, is what has driven me to pursue a career dedicated to developing sustainable energy systems.

``The Kiwi identity is epitomised through the determination and innovation of pioneering feats. More importantly, the spirit shown by people like Sir Peter Blake when sharing their experiences with others is inspiration to us all. I aspire to follow in the footsteps of leaders like Sir Peter.

``The versatility of my mechatronics degree has given me the broad skillset required to methodically break down and solve problems from different perspectives, as well as the strength to persist when searching for the optimal solution. View a YouTube clip featuring Watson made by the University of Canterbury: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmM9gQoXVvI.‘’

In his spare time, Watson is an ultra-marathon runner and multisport participant, finishing in the top 10 of the 2014 Coast to Coast Longest Day World event and finished the Chicamocha, Columbia, 166km ultra-marathon.

ends

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