Ara engineering student excels in ‘Engineer your Career’ competition

News News & events

01 Dec 2017

Phillip Goundar, New Zealand Diploma of Engineering (Civil) student, placed in the top three in an Engineering NZ competition, earning return flights to the November ‘Engineer your Career’ forum. The second year Ara Institute of Canterbury student from Fiji believes it was his creative vision, background and experience that impressed the judges.

Phillip Goundar pictured in Kahukura, the Engineering and Architectural Studies building  

In answering why he chose to study engineering Goundar drew upon his own life experiences.
“I originate from a rural village in Fiji called Vatukarasa. Growing up we had a very basic house and no [clean] running water. I had to walk with a two-litre bottle to a family friend’s house as they had a borehole and clean water, so I would fill it up and walk back home. I made several trips every afternoon so we had clean water to drink.”

Experiences such as this make Goundar appreciate the value of engineering. “If I don’t do something correctly there are lives at stake, so that builds pride into what I’m doing. I can see how my work is going to serve the community. I can see the importance of my job, especially after going through all of the Christchurch earthquakes and aftershocks.”

Goundar was one of eight engineering students from Ara who beat out competition from tertiary institutes across the country to attend the Wellington forum. Engineering New Zealand, formerly IPENZ, originally offered fifty forum spots for tertiary students. However, due to the high calibre of entries they decided to offer seventy-two spots.

To earn entry to the forum students had to provide winning answers to two questions: what inspired you to study engineering and what does the future of engineering look like to you?

Twenty-one year old Goundar thinks that in the future the engineering industry will place higher value on safety and innovation. Within his own career, Goundar wants to explore the concept of “designing a material which is lighter than concrete but much superior in strength”.

“The highlight of the whole event for me was to hear that grades are important but it’s a fifty-fifty split between grades and experience. For me personally, I made use of all my opportunities at Ara, not just in class. Ara gave me the platform to speak up and share my ideas. The tutors welcome questions and conversation with the students, and they keep learning engaging. It’s clear that they want you to understand.”

From December, Goundar will start working for BECA as a Civil Engineering Technician. However, since attending the forum he is considering his career pathway and exploring the possibilities of further study.

“I appreciated the networking opportunities at the forum to talk with new engineers in the field and hear about the difficulties they face. I also gained a better understanding of how I could move up in the ranks within the engineering industry.”

“My goal is to study the Ara Bachelor of Engineering Technology Degree part-time, or a Bachelor of Engineering through University. Once I have achieved that and gained work experience I want to go on to do a taught Masters. I don’t know if I’ll want to work within the industry for my entire career. One day I’d like to be a lecturer.”