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Engineering A Brighter Future

Quinlan Meyerink will officially become a University of Canterbury graduate today.

Cheered on by wellwishers, he will walk with hundreds of other graduands in the traditional UC Graduation Procession through Christchurch city streets from the University of Canterbury’s original town site (now the Arts Centre) to attend his April 2021 graduation ceremony at the Christchurch Town Hall.

His UC Bachelor of Electrical and Electronic Engineering (Hons) degree began paying off long before graduation.

In 2020, Quinlan worked at Tait Communications for three months as a summer intern. The internship came about after working alongside other final-year UC Engineering students on audio research and development to improve Tait’s offerings to firefighters and other groups whose job involves wearing breathing apparatus facemasks while communicating.

“My internship with Tait went very well. I undertook a redesign of their automated testing platform. I completed a functioning prototype, and then went further to add new features and expand the company’s testing abilities,” he says. “I was asked to stay on at the end of my internship and was offered a range of positions which was fantastic.”

Quinlan is now employed as a Building Services Engineer at WSP, a global engineering and professional services consulting firm. WSP’s New Zealand operation (formerly WSP Opus) has 40 offices across the country.

What does your job involve?

“Work as a building services engineer involves the design of critical building systems such as electricity, lighting, air conditioning and so on. Currently I have been working, with most of my team, on a refurbishment of the Kiwirail depot in Dunedin. I am also involved in some school rebuilds and extensions. The site visits for these school projects have been incredibly rewarding – seeing your designs being built and to see kids enjoying their new facilities has been awesome.”

How has your UC Engineering degree helped you in life so far?

“The immediate answer to this question is it helped me get this job, however the skillset I’ve gained extends far past the technical know-how that is required. My time at UC has shown me how to communicate with others, how to be self-driven, and I’ve certainly learnt to function under pressure. The things we learn far exceed the extent of the syllabus.”

Did you have a favourite academic or course?

“The embedded system papers at UC were most definitely my favourite. I was hooked from the moment I saw a helicopter take off, controlled by code I’d written. Following on from that my favourite lecturer had to be [UC’s Director of Computer Engineering] Le Yang, who took some of the embedded classes. He was incredibly informative, however very down to earth and approachable. His stories were also fantastic.”

What’s a lasting life lesson you took from your time at UC?

“I learnt that everyone is human. Especially in my first two years of university, lecturers seemed these incredibly intelligent (which they are) individuals who were out of reach. This led me to not engage with them on a one-on-one level. However, at one point I was struggling on a project and sent the lecturer an email asking for help. They invited me along to their office and we talked through the work. This experience made me much more comfortable to talk to other lecturers. This lesson has followed me into my work life, where I am much more confident to talk to my superiors for advice and help. People are a lot more down to earth than we think, and for the most part are very happy to help.”

Any advice to current UC students?

“My advice is to get involved in extracurricular activities. The clubs at UC are fantastic, catering to every want and need of students. It also looks fantastic on the CV to show you’re a well-rounded individual. I think within engineering we get caught up too much on grades to get jobs, but taking the time to enjoy University life and get involved is great, and will look good on a CV.”

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