Feb 2015 - KR Ambassador Enthuses New Generation

Feb 2015 - KR Ambassador Enthuses New Generation

Structural engineer Zak Mataa's enthusiasm for engineering has made him into one of the most popular IPENZ Futureintech Ambassadors visiting secondary schools in the Canterbury region. In this role Zak shares his career story and talks pupils through the engineering design process from initial concepts to the final plan. Helping to inspire school pupils to consider a career in engineering has also led to Zak into assisting with the design of a new school playground following the post-earthquake merge of Linwood Intermediate and College. It is intended that the playground, which in its draft design stage consists of a skateboard, half pipe, stage, rollercoaster and water fountain, will become an entry in the Transpower Neighbourhood Engineers Awards. “The end result may change a bit,” warns Zak as the pupils wrestle with budget and ‘buildability’ challenges!

According to Zak, the thought of volunteering to talk to schools about his ‘day job’ was all about helping pupils to make good decisions about what to study and where their subject selections might take them. “Building the confidence of school kids, lifting their aspirations and providing them with insights into where they could be in 10 years time is incredibly rewarding. Discussions that start with questions about robots, which are frequently linked to engineering, end up literally opening their eyes to the world of construction, buildings, infrastructure and materials."

Zak’s Cook Islands heritage also meant that he was keen to highlight and serve as a role model for Pacific Island pupils who often veer away from tertiary education. "The chance to talk to and hear from another Pasifika person who has achieved University qualifications might just be a catalyst for goal setting – and if I have made a difference in this way that is also a rich outcome," says Zak.

Catherine Smith, Christchurch Facilitator, Futureintech, added that Zak’s fortnightly commitment, which comes on top of a solid commitment to Kirk Roberts,  is timed to enable pupils to make informed decisions before their NCEA selections put them on a course that steers their career. “We would love a lot more Zaks on our books who are willing to give their time so generously,” said Ms Smith.

IPENZ Futureintech Ambassador Zak Mataa

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