Recently, we had a lovely visit from our inaugural Whanake Scholarship recipient Sarah Lewis to update us on what she is currently up to!

Sarah is studying a Bachelor of Engineering, majoring in mechatronics at Massey University in Palmerston North. She is also a graduate of the Puhoro STEM Academy. She was our very first scholarship recipient back in 2019, and since then it has been great to track her career progression and how she has navigated challenges in her studies through the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sarah is currently based in Auckland carrying out an internship with the University of Auckland. She is working on a project to help assemble an automated satellite which will hopefully be launched into space to help track data for university research purposes.

Whanake Scholarship Recipient 2019, Sarah Lewis, and HERA GM Comms 4.0, Kim Nugent.

The idea behind this satelite is that it will have a bit of extra software in it to automate the data sorting process, so rather than sending all data back down for a human to look through, it’ll automatically carry out this process and only send down the data determined to be an anomaly.

Of her experience, Sarah saying: “It is really exciting to be working on something that may eventually be launched into space and to know I have been a part of creating technology that is floating around up there!”


The changing landscape of studying in Aotearoa

Interestingly, when we caught up with Sarah it was insightful to hear from her on how her study has changed since she began her journey in 2019. This was obviously just ahead of the Covid-19 pandemic which gripped the world and sent New Zealand in to lockdown throughout the majority of 2020.

Reflecting across the years, Sarah recalled how she started out spending a lot of time on campus attending classes, interacting with peers and working in study groups. With the onset of lockdown, classes went through a pivot and were then delivered online. Since then, Sarah said that the majority of classes continue to have online delivery – in most cases, combining students across campuses in Auckland and Palmerston North with a single lecturer.

“The university experience is a lot different for me now. The online study mechanism is a great way to learn, but also requires students to have more self motivation to keep themselves on track.”

“I am also contemplating moving in to onsite residency halls, as I think this is one of the key ways in which you can find opportunity to have interactions with fellow peers these days!”


What is on the horizon for Sarah?

I am really focused on getting through my final year of study and to start thinking about what the future might hold for me.

Being a Whanake Scholarship recipient has been a huge support to me through my study and I am grateful for the opportunities it has provided. In particular, how it has given my voice as a Māori in Engineering a space to share my thoughts on how we can improve Māori engagement in STEMM, and why it is important for industry to do so.

So far, I’ve been able to make new connections, expand my horizons, experience working in an office environment, and much more. It’s thanks to this, that my interest in engineering continues to grow every day from when it started during high school. While I’m only at the beginning of my journey – I’m excited about what the future may hold.

I can’t wait to explore what kinds of opportunities could open up to me and how I might be able to contribute.


Keen to support more Māori in engineering?

If you’re interested in engaging with the development of our Māori in Engineering program, please get intouch with our CEO, Troy Coyle today!

If you have any Māori employees that you think we should shine a line on, or would be interested in being part of our Māori in Engineering LinkedIn group, please let our Mātauranga Māori Project Lead, Kim Nugent know.

Also, if you’d like to create or support a scholarship for Māori in Engineering or Manufacturing, please contact the Māori Education Trust, who’d be happy to manage this for you!