Completing a 3-year course pays off


Having dropped his Bachelor of Engineering (BE) studies for work and travel, Juan Martinez wanted to complete a qualification as soon as possible when returning to tertiary education. That led him to the Bachelor of Engineering Technology (BEngTech) and an award-winning final-year project.

Making changes

Juan had completed three years of the five-year Bachelor of Engineering in his native Uruguay when he headed off for work and travel. Meeting a “Kiwi lady” in Alaska, he says, led him to settle in New Zealand.

Deciding “it was time to wrap up my studies”, Juan considered the various pathways to an engineering qualification.

Why do the BEngTech?

Choosing the BEngTech was, says Juan, a pragmatic decision. He could complete his studies a year earlier than if he did the BE, “I wasn’t 20 years’ old anymore!”

Another attraction was the practical aspect of the BEngTech – getting experience in working on different aspects of engineering rather than just learning theory. “As with anything, the more experience you get the better you get.”

Transferring to a different qualification (and discipline) in another country brings its own challenges of course. However, Juan was able to cross-credit some of the BE papers he had completed in Uruguay. He still had to complete three years, but did fewer papers each semester than other students.

A good pathway into engineering

Juan graduated this year and now works for Tauranga consultancy Promech, where he works side by side with BE graduates. “It’s amazing the amount of stuff you can learn from each other,” he says. “The BEngTech has given me a more applied approach to engineering.”

Asked what advice he’d give to someone considering tertiary options, Juan says he would definitely recommend the BEngTech as a way into engineering. “I’d tell the younger generation, or someone looking to retrain, to go for it, because the skills you gain are amazing and you get to apply them.

Project opportunity

The BEngTech final project provided a good opportunity for Juan to apply his knowledge to develop a practical solution for a client.

In 2015, Waikato Regional Council challenged Wintec BEngTech students to design a floodgate mechanism that opens and closes under hydraulic pressure without the need to be powered and controlled by electricity. Juan produced 11 designs, with three being picked to be prototyped and tested.

Partway through the process, he was awarded the Todd Foundation Award for Excellence and received a grant of $3,700 to go towards testing the designs. Juan’s final design is being manufactured and will be installed in the Graham’s Creek flood mitigation project in Tairua later this year.

The project, he says, was a massive learning curve. “I learnt a lot from the experience and in working alongside some great people from the company and regional council.”

Our thanks to Juan for his time and advice. If you have any questions or comments, please get in touch

April 2016