Bachelor of Engineering Technology ākonga Mikayla Mathys (Taranaki) remembers only too well what it is like to make decisions about what to study and where to study. As she finished off her final year at New Plymouth Girls High School, she was set on following her interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects and heading away to university.
“I was set on getting a bachelor’s degree, which wasn’t on offer at WITT at the time,” she says.
Mid-way through her second year, she returned home once a bachelor’s degree was available at WITT Te Pūkenga.
“I realised I love being here in Taranaki, and the more hands-on, experienced-based learning in a polytech really suits me,” she says.
She says she likes tutors knowing her by name and appreciates the small class sizes and their industry connections.
Staying local has led to two summer internships with First Gas. In her first year, she had a role in 3D scanning First Gas assets, and last summer had a water bath heater project that she’s been able to carry through as her final year Engineering Development Project.
First Gas host a number of engineering and technology students on a comprehensive 12-week programme each year where they get a taste for the industry and are assigned a real-world project as a focal point for their time, says First Gas Engineering Services Manager Tim Gray.
“We want to make sure they get to work on something they can see and touch that isn’t too theoretical, and they are often projects we want to get to but fall outside our team’s day-to-day work,” he says.
“We put time and effort into recruiting the best candidates for our internships from polytechs and universities, and Mikayla’s been a standout,” he adds.
Mikayla is also the recipient of two scholarships, the GNS Te Pū Ao scholarship and the Ara Ake scholarship for BEngTech students. This scholarship is awarded to WITT students who are well connected to their community and will use their learnings to make a difference. As part of the scholarships, Mikayla has opportunities to be exposed to the work that both Ara Ake and GNS do, which adds to her industry knowledge.
In the future, Mikayla hopes to turn her passion for the energy sector into work and feels she has a head start thanks to her local internships and the connections she’s made through her scholarships and tutors.