Nathania Cheung - 2023 Student Award winner

A natural resources engineering student at the University of Canterbury, Nathania Cheung is one of three 2023 Student Award winners. We caught up with her to find out why she chose to study engineering and what the future holds.

Nathania, what motivates you? 

I enjoy challenging myself and giving new things a go, both within engineering and outside of my studies.  

Last year I was the university Student Ambassador for Engineering New Zealand where I was able to help organise events and promote Engineering New Zealand within uni. I’ve also picked up snowboarding since studying, which I absolutely love. 

Why did you decide to study engineering? 

I really enjoyed physics, calculus, and geography in high school, so I was leaning towards pursuing a STEM-related career, that was community-focused, encouraged sustainability, and used problem-solving skills. But I didn’t really know what engineering was until Year 13.  

I think a massive game changer for me was that I was super lucky to be accepted into the University of Canterbury WiECAN 2019 programme at the start of Year 13. It was the first year they had run the programme so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was better than what I could have imagined. I was able to get snippets into the different engineering disciplines that the university offered through fun, interactive workshops and I got to meet so many new people. It convinced me that pursuing engineering was the right choice for me, and it made me set on attending the University of Canterbury over any other university.  
What kind of job are you looking for once you graduate?  

Currently, I have a graduate job lined up with Riley Consultants in their geotechnical team, which I am really looking forward to being a part of again. In the future, I plan to explore the water engineering space and I also hope to get the opportunity to work or potentially volunteer overseas, especially since I am studying for a Diploma in Global Humanitarian Engineering alongside my degree. 
Where do you see yourself in five year’s time professionally? 

So far from my internships, I’ve really enjoyed working in consultancy, so I think I still see myself working in consultancy, probably in geotechnical or water engineering. I hope to have built up enough experience to be able to start working towards getting my CPEng and getting more leadership opportunities.