Press Release – Weltec
Hard work and determination to succeed has meant a young Maori woman has unwittingly become a role model to other young women throughout New Zealand.
“Most young girls don’t think about engineering as an option in terms of a career. I’m here to show them it’s not only an option, but a great choice for women where you can get a degree and get a fantastic job, and yes, I am talking about engineering,” says Ruth Tautari.
Ms Tautari, of Ngapuhi affiliations, is one of fourteen students in the final weeks of the inaugural three year Bachelor of Engineering Technology at the Wellington Institute of Technology. She is also a Lieutenant in the New Zealand Army based at Trentham where she works giving support to the workshop which maintains the Army’s vehicles.
Ms Tautari decided to study engineering majoring in mechanical to enable her to provide more technical support in her role, a decision which was backed by her employer and her family, particularly an older sister who had also served in the New Zealand Army.
“Dad was shocked when I joined the Army like my sister had, but he is really proud about me gaining my degree,” Ms Tautari says. She admits to only having a patchy knowledge of physics and maths before formally studying engineering. “I was told when I enrolled that I would have to work harder to get up to speed.” To do this Ruth and three fellow students formed a study group which met most evenings during the week to hone their calculus and physics knowledge and understanding. “This provided the collegial support I needed and the motivation to keep going.”
Fortunately, hard work is something she was used to, Ms Tautari says. “As a woman you have to work harder to prove you are just as good. When people get to know you and your expertise, they treat you fairly.”
Having to combine military work with study was also difficult. Ms Tautari often studied into the early hours of the morning and had to keep up her physical fitness training for her army position. She spent term breaks working at Trentham and was also needed at other times during study terms.
For her third year engineering project Ms Tautari designed a “Suspend Towing Apparatus” for a Pinzgauer – a six wheeled medium all-terrain military vehicle. Weighing in between five to 7 1/2 tonne the vehicle is designed to carry personnel and equipment. At present should the Pinzgauer break down or become stuck, Ms Tautari explains, its recovery method is not standard, but the recovery solution is usually decided at the time by the soldiers in the field making use of whatever is available, like chains.
In 2013 WelTec has been awarded additional funding to meet the Government’s call for more engineers with 60 more places available on level 5 and 6 engineering programmes. WelTec is one of only two Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics nationally that offers all three majors (civil, mechanical and electrical) in the New Zealand Diploma of Engineering and Bachelor of Engineering Technology which are engineering qualifications in high demand by employers.