Graduate Profile: Jess Trotter- Business

Jess Trotter- Certificate Business Studies Graduate

Jess Trotter- Certificate Business Studies Graduate

In the final months of Jess Trotter’s Certificate in Business Studies, mid-2014, she already had her foot in the door of her dream industry.

Working part-time at a supermarket and determined to complete her qualification, Jess was offered a casual job with Westpac.

With her new work commitments requiring flexible hours alongside rostered supermarket shifts, Jess knew that she would have to find a different way to study.

“My lecturers were so supportive of my opportunity at Westpac. As dual professionals who had worked in business environments they understood my work commitments and supported me when my work hours clashed with class times.”

“I learnt to get as much work done when and where I could. I would study at work when it was quiet on the checkout and at home, and email notes to myself on my phone when I had ideas for assignments.”

Jess chose to study the Certificate in Business Studies (level 4) to gain transferable skills that she could use in a variety of career paths and have a platform for further study.

“It was the first step for me; I knew I wanted to work in business and had dreamed of one day working in banking. The Certificate gave me the confidence and the skills to take the next step and enter the industry.”

Jess is now a Customer Banking Consultant in Development at Westpac Bank, having recently landed a full time position.

“The skills that I have learnt at UCOL have become second nature, and I feel that when customers or colleagues ask me a question I really know what I am talking about.”






Nurses graduation

Graduate profile: Chrissy Renata – Nursing

Chrissy Renata has worked extremely hard to complete her Bachelor of Nursing at Whanganui UCOL. Fuelled by a desire to bring skills home to her community, Chrissy went above and beyond to upskill from an experienced Enrolled Nurse to a Registered Nurse.

Chrissy Renata - Nursing Graduate

Chrissy Renata – Nursing Graduate

Living with her husband on a farm out the back of Raetihi, 113 km from the Whanganui UCOL campus, Chrissy was determined to do whatever was necessary to succeed academically. She rented a flat in Whanganui for three years so that she could study and work in the evenings.

She also approached the Whanganui DHB to seek employment to fund her living costs and was given a position of healthcare assistant, mainly working night shifts. “Without the DHB providing me with that opportunity I would not have been able to complete my degree; they told me they were investing in the future and I am extremely grateful for their support.”

Chrissy says going back to study as a mature student posed its challenges, in particular learning how to use technology and write academically. “My class had a variety of people, young and old and we were able to take advantage of that, to teach and support each other. My peers taught me a lot; the younger ones taught me how to open my mind and change with the times. This was invaluable for my qualification.”

Chrissy identified that alongside her teachers, the support of the UCOL Library and Student Experience staff was essential to her success. “The staff were awesome. They understood the challenges I was facing and showed me different ways of learning. They treat each student as an individual and my degree belongs to them as well.”

Chrissy is currently employed as a registered nurse at the GP surgery in Raetihi, a position which is enhanced by her strong community contacts.

Chrissy is proud to say that her experience at UCOL has encouraged her son and his partner to take up further education with UCOL in 2015, and she hopes to be able to inspire Maori and mature students to take the leap into further education.

International student

Science with Shillington #3: Sunlight

David Shillington Science Lecturer

David Shillington

David Shillington is Associate Professor Applied Health Sciences, and Senior lecturer in Chemistry at UCOL. He knows a lot about Science. Here’s what he has to say about Sunlight…

2015 is the UN international year of light and light based technologies. It is a joint initiative between the United Nations Educational and Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and many scientific organisations around the world. It aims to raise global awareness of the social, economic and developmental role of light and optical technologies. Light is vital as a source of life and also is essential for many technologies which have revolutionised medicine and daily communications. These industries create jobs, generate economic growth and help us to address global issues such as sustainability and the energy challenges ahead. Our first experiences of light and colour occur through what we see in the natural world. Rainbows, sunsets, the blue sky, the Northern and Southern lights, the varied colours of flora and fauna are all ways we see how light manifests itself in nature.

Palmerston North is very fortunate, as it is soon to be the home of a newly developing exhibition called “Sunlight” This will open at the science museum at Te Manawa. One may wonder where such an exhibition could begin regarding the history of light? Well, very soon after the Big Bang, an important stage of the evolution of the universe occurred when the temperature was cool enough (about 4000 degrees Centigrade) for neutral atoms to form.  Up until this time the numerous charged particles in existence prevented light from travelling very far.  After the formation of atoms, light could travel immense distances and we can now observe microwave background radiation (a form of “light” that has been travelling for over 13 billion years).

Important to us, was the more recent formation (about 4.5 billion years ago) of a particular star we call the Sun and the material around it we call the Solar System. The Sun has shone over Earth ever since, initially allowing photosynthetic cynanobacteria to use sunlight to convert carbon dioxide and water into carbohydrates and oxygen. After producing vast quantities of oxygen, they then provided for oxygen-breathing life to evolve. Now the world depends on plants which use chlorophyll to achieve similar results and which help sustain the various life forms found on Earth.

When humans evolved very much more recently, they discovered many more sources of light starting with fire (camp fire light) and fuel burning lamps, advancing through to using electricity to “light up” incandescent lights, then progressing through to inventing fluorescent lighting and light emitting diode technologies. Branching out further, using wavelengths of radiation which are on either side of the visible radiation spectrum (shorter and longer in wavelength than visible light),  society now uses electromagnetic radiation usefully in many forms. We are familiar with communication and entertainment through radio waves. Microwave technology not only allows us to cook food efficiently, the development and use of cellphones allows us to communicate and use the internet from fairly remote locations.  X-rays, ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging have allowed us to see inside ourselves and to make enormous medical advances in cancer treatment.  

What an exciting field to develop an exhibition around! Te Manawa’s CEO Andy Lowe and his staff, with the support of its Science Society members, contracting personel and some generous sponsorships, have been hard at work to provide the citizens of Palmerston North with a thought provoking, scientific exhibition that will be worthy of sharing with other institutions nationally and internationally. That’s not bad for something home grown in our lovely Palmerston North. 

Science UCOL

Student Perspective: Part-time study

Claire Sweeney is a Year Two Diploma in Veterinary Nursing student at UCOL, in her third year of study.

As a mature student with two children (7 and 11), Claire is studying the Vet Nursing programme part-time. With past experience working with horses in the UK, and living in a rural environment with animals here in New Zealand, Claire always had Vet Nursing in the back of her mind. After moving home and starting a family Claire decided to pursue her quest for more knowledge and enrolled at UCOL. Fingers crossed, she’ll finish the programme at the end of 2015.

Claire says it has been challenging at times, but she made it through the first year with a mix of self-determination and support from her teachers. “I started as a distance student in late 2012 but I really struggled; the programme was more ‘sciencey’ than I expected. Luckily I was let into classes by the end of January 2013.”

Vet Nursing student

Claire Sweeney

Claire says she learned more by attending classes but did find them overwhelming to start with. “Everyone was under 25, except one other older lady, all glued to their phones and looking pretty. I actually skipped a couple of classes because of it.”

She didn’t express how she felt but instead persevered. “I had to, if I wanted to study.”

She says she appreciates that all the programme staff are now aware of her situation as a single mother with kids at school. “They’re all ok with it. I told the programme leader Heather recently that I couldn’t make the classes scheduled for after three in the afternoon, so she changed some class times for me. I didn’t expect that; Heather has been fantastic.”

Likewise, Claire is unable to make clinical labs to be run after three p.m. this year but staff have said they will try to work something out for her.

Another twist for Claire has been seeing her classmates progress through study faster than she has. “The ones I started with have finished, and now I’m with another group. It’s been eye-opening seeing how different two groups of students can be and this year’s group is much bigger than last year’s. I’ve found it good though, I like seeing the different personalities and attitudes.”

Claire says all her Lecturers are ‘dual-professionals’, i.e. industry experts as well as Teachers, and she sees the benefits. “Sometimes I do feel a bit left behind in the classroom because the subject matter is clearly just second nature to the Lecturer, but on rotation it’s really good because they give you all the tips and tricks along the way.

She says her Lecturers also have good connections to Vet practices in the region. “I have special circumstances, so I’ve been put in touch with a vet clinic close to home and the Vet there is always available to help me. The placements take a while to get your head around but they’re flexible; you can do them at different times of the year.”

Claire is looking forward to the practical work this year. “Year One was very technical and not as much fun but you’ve just got to do it the best you can. Lecturers set tasks and group work to make things more interesting. It was more time consuming but it was easier to remember things that way rather than always reading out of a textbook.”

Living on a lifestyle block, Claire appreciates that she is able to bring in her own samples to test. “The Science labs are good. It’s been great.”

So long, Steve Sorbsy

Steve Sorsby Dean at Graduation 2015

Steve Sorsby at Graduation 2015

After 33 years and several roles and advances in technology at UCOL, Executive Dean Steve Sorsby has decided to hang up his mortarboard and retire.

Steve joined UCOL as a Lecturer in March 1982 and was concurrently appointed to the newly created role of Computer Manager later in that same year. In 2012 he moved from his position as Director of Information Technology to take up the role of Executive Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Business.

He’s been involved in massive technology changes that have occurred in education since the launch of the PC in 1982. He installed the first polytechnic email system in collaboration with Christchurch Institute of Technology, implemented local computer networks, the internet, wireless communications, and connected to the Advanced research network.

He also carried out other roles at UCOL including Integration Manager during the Wairarapa Community Polytechnic merger with UCOL, Facilities Manager, Corporate Services Manager and Client Project Manager on several major building projects, including the earthquake strengthening project of some of our buildings in 2010.

Reflecting on the last three years, Mr Sorsby says the Deans role is entirely different from anything else he has done at UCOL. “I have enjoyed the many aspects of the role and working closely with all of the departments at UCOL, but the greatest satisfaction comes from seeing the success that the students achieve whilst studying. Although I’m looking to take things a bit easier I’m sure I will continue to be involved in education one way or another, possibly coming back as a student.”

“One thing life at UCOL has taught me is that you never stop learning.”

Steve’s last day at UCOL is this Friday, April 10. Farewell Steve, you will be missed!

Automotive equipment

Graduate profile: Brody McCosh – Automotive Engineering

Brody Mcosh - Automotive Engineering 2014 Graduate

Brody Mcosh – Automotive Engineering 2014 Graduate

When Masterton local Brody McCosh finished Year 12 he already knew what it was he wanted to do.

Having already completed a STAR automotive programme while still at school, Brody enrolled in UCOL Wairarapa’s Certificate in Automotive Engineering for the year 2014.

With some solid after school work experience under his belt, he knew he wanted to work with cars and thought he “might as well get into it.”

Brody says he found it easy to learn during the one year full-time programme. “It was really good. My tutor was the best teacher I’ve ever had – really supportive throughout the course.”

“There was lots of one-on-one time; you’re doing full days of one subject.”

During the programme Brody gained valuable work experience at a local automotive workshop, working on cars and generally helping out around the place.

It was through this experience that he developed relationships with visiting reps and landed himself a paid job at Repco.

“It’s great because Repco is all about car parts, and I already know about them from the UCOL course.”

Brody says he did know a few people on the programme when he started but has since made more friends. “We liked the same stuff!”

Brody is now considering what it is he will do next.

“I’d like to start an apprenticeship in automotive engineering.”

Honouring community contribution

We are excited to announce the recipients of the 2015 UCOL Council Honours Awards!

Manawatu District Mayor Margaret Kouvelis, Whanganui businessman Trevor Goodwin and Wairarapa-based Musician Warren Maxwell all receive the highest honour of Honorary Fellow for outstanding and distinguished contribution to UCOL, the wider community and society in general.

Honorary Associate awards go out to Mike Grant, MidCentral District Health Board Deputy Chief Executive; Whanganui Patternmaker John Kite; and Wairarapa philanthropist Chris Dugdale, for significant and distinguished contribution to the life and work of UCOL and/or the wider community of which UCOL is a part.

The awards are UCOL Council’s way of recognising people who act as role models and inspiration to UCOL students, and reflect the institution’s community connections. The awards will be conferred at UCOL’s upcoming graduation ceremonies (Wairarapa March 17, Whanganui March 18, Palmerston North 24 and 25 March).

Here are this year’s recipients:

Warren MaxwellWarren Maxwell, Honorary Fellow

Warren Maxwell is an award-winning New Zealand musician; he is a founding member of psychedelic blues quartet, Little Bushman & iconic NZ Apra silver scroll nominees Trinity Roots. Warren was also was saxophonist for internationally acclaimed dub group Fat Freddy’s Drop. He has also worked in Theatre, Sound Design, and in scoring for film and television. Warren holds a Bachelor of Music and contracts to UCOL Wairarapa as a Contemporary Music Tutor. He has been involved with Masterton youth programme the SPOT and the setup of a recording studio for young people. In 2013 Warren Co-Founded Masterton’s internationally renowned live music venue, King Street Live, and also featured in the national television series, Songs from the Inside, teaching music to prisoners.

Margaret KouvelisMargaret Kouvelis, Honorary Fellow

Margaret Kouvelis is the Mayor of the Manawatu District. She was the first Chief Executive of the New Zealand Teachers Council, and has been an advisor to secondary schools and to the Teacher Registration Board. She has also worked as an education consultant in the Middle East, a scientist, a biology teacher, the head of art at Alexandra’s Dunstan High School and the head of music at Freyberg High School. She holds degrees in science and a diploma in music, and is committed to securing further economic development, creating jobs, and attracting and retaining youth in the District while protecting the community’s social well-being.

Trevor Goodwin Headshot 15-03-11Trevor Goodwin, Honorary Fellow

Trevor Goodwin is the Chair of Whanganui Community Education Service (CES) and Acting Chief Executive of Business Central. He served as President of Business New Zealand from 2008 to 2010, and Chair of UCOL Council from 2010 to 2014. He was Chief Executive of Wanganui Gas Ltd for 15 years, and is a Life Member of the Employers and Manufacturers Association Central. As UCOL Chair Trevor represented UCOL on the joint UCOL/Wanganui District Council working group seeking a sustainable tertiary education model for Whanganui, and chaired the ITP Sector Forum. Trevor continues to contribute to Whanganui and the wider community as a Trustee of Vision 2020, a business mentor, and through involvement in community groups.

John KiteJohn Kite, Honorary Associate

John Kite is a successful patternmaker from Whanganui who has worked for iconic designers such as Colin Cole, Kevin Berkhan, Angela Wickstead, Liz Mitchell and the bridal label Rue de Siene. He is a member of the stakeholder group for Whanganui UCOL’s Bachelor of Design and Art, and has run workshops with and mentored Fashion students. He has also presented the top achieving Year Three UCOL Fashion student with the John Kite Book Award, and moderated UCOL’s Third Year student Final Major Project. John brings a wealth of industry knowledge to UCOL and continues to contribute to the Whanganui arts community.

duo photographyBarbara Christine (Chris) Dugdale, Honorary Associate

Chris Dugdale is a trustee of the Dugdale Charitable Trust, which provides opportunities for people to work together and make a difference in the lives of other people. She is also a member of Philanthropy NZ. Chris has been involved with UCOL Wairarapa since 2012 when the campus built its first house on site as part of its construction programmes. Chris encouraged local businesses and suppliers to get involved with the UCOL house builds and the partnership between UCOL, local suppliers and the Trust has raised funds by undertaking to purchase the houses and resell them at a profit. Students have been able to learn valuable vocational skills and the region has benefited from the donations made to the different local charities.

Mike Grant (photo 1)Mike Grant, Honorary Associate

Mike Grant is the Deputy Chief Executive at MidCentral District Health Board, and Chair of the Central Region’s cancer control network. Mike has a long association with health and has led the development of MidCentral DHB’s strategic direction. He has fully supported the establishment of UCOL’s specialist Exercise and Wellness clinic U-Kinetics through a Service Level Agreement between Midcentral DHB and UCOL. This support and funding has enabled UCOL to become a demonstration site for Health Workforce New Zealand, and to provide innovative education and health outcomes for the region.

Image courtesy of Education New Zealand

Science with Shillington #2: White Snow

David Shillington is Associate Professor Applied Health Sciences, and Senior lecturer in Chemistry at UCOL. He knows a lot about Science. Here’s his take on White Snow!

Why does snow appear to be white, whilst glaciers have a blue hue? The answer is superficially simple.

Snow is made up of very small ice crystals, which are individually clear or colourless. However, when many ice crystals become “attached” to each other to form snowflakes, there are many crystal surfaces. These can cause light to undergo a pattern of diffuse reflection so that an incoming ray of light is reflected at many angles instead of one angle, like your reflection in a mirror. Diffusely scattered light forms the images of the objects we commonly see as “visible” images in our eyes. The surfaces of most solid objects, on a microscopic scale appear to be rough and therefore, reflect light back from the object at many angles. In the case of snow, the surfaces of many ice crystals stuck together, diffusely reflect back the entire spectrum of visible colours of the rainbow. As all of the wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation (colours) are reflected back equally, snow reveals its characteristic beautiful white appearance. The beauty is enhanced by the sudden transformation of a landscape by a “pure” white covering. In the case of a “blue” looking glacier, some of the red wavelengths of the visible light spectrum are reflected less than the other colours. As more blue is reflected, this gives rise to the perception of “blue” ice. Any absorbed light energy (the red in particular) is converted into heat, raising the temperature of the ice. This implies that the glacier ice crystals must differ in nature when compared to those found in snow, even though they both contain frozen water and glacier material originates from falling snow!

To form snow, ice crystals initially grow from liquid water droplets which start to freeze around an aerosol particle such as dust, clay or a bit of biological matter (called an ice nucleus). The types of nuclei required to form water droplets are generally much more ubiquitous than ice crystal nuclei. Once the ice crystals have started to form, the environment becomes supersaturated in terms of ice crystals in the air. This results in water vapour attaching to the infant crystal rather than to grow a new droplet of water. The air around the crystals dries out as the water vapour is locally depleted causing more liquid droplets in the vicinity to evaporate. This produces more water vapour and this vapour deposits water molecules directly onto the surface of the growing ice crystals. The process creates very large, heavy clusters and aggregates, known as snowflakes, resulting in precipitation in the form of snow. This is a very efficient way to drop water from the air to the ground in place of rain or hail.

There are many differing shapes of snowflakes, arising from their thermal histories, and this is captured in the saying “no two are alike”. As the snowflakes are blown by up and downdraughts, the ice crystals experience many changes in temperature and humidity before falling to Earth. The mechanism by which the aggregates bond and stick together still puzzles scientists and is very different from the forces involved in depositing the vapour onto the growing crystal. When snow falls onto a glacier, the ice crystals are compressed to form part of the glacier. Over long periods of time, trapped air bubbles escape from between the ice crystals increasing the ice crystal sizes leading to ice becoming transparent to light. For the same reason that water can appear blue, the bonds holding oxygen and hydrogen together absorb energy from the red end of the visible spectrum leaving blue light to be reflected back to the observer.

Snow seems white and ice seems blue – nature at its beautiful best.

*Header image courtesy of Education New Zealand.

David Shillington Science Lecturer

David Shillington

Student profile: Behnam Farvardin – Medical Imaging Technology

Behnam Farvardin decided to turn an interest in film into a career in Medical Imaging with UCOL’s Bachelor of Applied Science (Medical Imaging Technology).

Behnam has been a globe trotter from a young age. Born in Iran and living in Turkey, New Zealand and Australia, he knew he wanted a career he could travel with and contribute back to society at the same time.

Behnam Pic-MIT

After studying Film Making and Photography at the New Zealand Film and TV school in 2008, Behnam realising that in his case, film making was more of an artistic expression than a career path.

“I revisited my initial interests out of school and wanted to find something that paid well, was meaningful, where I could travel and that encompassed science/physics or mathematics.”

Behnam went on to complete a six month bridging course with WINTEC before undertaking the UCOL Certificate of Science and Health Level 3 and then completing his Bachelor of Applied Science (Medical Imaging Technology) degree.

Whilst studying Medical Imaging, Behnam was on placements in Wellington and Kenepuru hospitals for large periods of time, alongside theory based work on the UCOL Palmerston North campus.

“The practical aspect of this qualification was invaluable, providing industry connections and ensuring that we were better equipped, both academically and practically.”

These industry connections were another highlight of Behnam’s time at UCOL as forming connections with classmates and lecturers are key in the close knit Medical Imaging community.

“My lecturers at UCOL have been extremely approachable and supportive and there are great student support services available in an informal setting which ensures all students feel comfortable accessing academic and personal support.”

Behnam is currently taking a break after a long six years of study and working as a Youth Worker. He is looking forward to entering the public health sector and eventually travelling to the Pacific Islands to volunteer his medical imaging skills to communities in need.

Science with Shillington #1: Tidal Lock

David Shillington Science Lecturer

David Shillington

David Shillington is Associate Professor Applied Health Sciences, and Senior lecturer in Chemistry at UCOL. His letters are impressive: BSc(Hons), MSc, PhD. FNZIC (Chemistry). Needless to say, he knows a lot about Science. For those of you out there interested in the likes of wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation (colours), the Moon, and things on microscopic scales, you’ll be pretty excited about the fact that we’re going to post fortnightly Science articles here from David Shillington from now on. David’s opinion is that science is not frightening and incomprehensible. It’s not boring, and it shouldn’t be just confined to a laboratory. We agree.

Here goes… Tidal Lock!

“Professor of Applied Mathematics at Massey University, Robert McLaghlan, recently gave an excellent exposition on his thoughts about climate change to Science Centre Inc. members and guests. His fact filled talk reminded us not only of how early on history Scientists such as Svant Arrhenius and Tyndall had discussed the physics behind heat trapping gases, but also how the many complex feed-back (and forward systems) contribute to energy distribution around the globe. Arrhenius, famous for a number of discoveries and formulations of some laws of Chemistry and Physics, had experimented with gases as early as mid 1800’s. He wrote “The influence of carbonic acid in the air upon the temperature on the ground” an article appearing in the April edition of the Journal (1866) “Philosophical Magazine and Journal of Science”. He was the first to quantify the contribution of carbon dioxide to the greenhouse effect and to speculate about the possible effects of changing carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere were linked to long term climate variations. Early references were made to “carbonic acid” the term used in those days to mean carbon dioxide.

Professor McLaghlan went on to elucidate the sensitivity of climate to the many factors involved. Having trawled through enormous amounts of data from numerous sources, he made references to past trends and the more recent discussions and human reactions that have ensued. One factor he referred to involved the “stabilized” climate on Earth due to Moon-Earth coupled orbital motion. This refers to how the Moon influences (and stabilises) the Earth’s rotation around its own axis (the origin of day and night) and prevents potentially large variations occurring in the Earth’s axial motion such as wobble and changes in the axial tilt. It also accounts for why the Earth’s rotation is slowing down (days and nights are getting longer over time), why the Earth-Moon distance is increasing, and also why we have low and high tides in the oceans.

Referred to as “tidal friction”, the planets and many of their satellites (Moons) in our solar system are well established (through the laws of physics) to have become tidally synchronised. This concept applies to stars and galaxies too. This had me thinking about scientific enquiry and how the answer to one simple question can fortuitously have answers to many others, possibly even to some questions not yet conceived.

Sir Isaac Newton described the force of gravity from observing falling apples. He related the attractive forces between two objects, an apple and the earth. Only later did other scientists use his thinking about gravity to ask questions about climate. The law of gravity states that the attraction between objects is greater when they are closer. One can then go on to explain why the Moon’s rotation on its axis is “locked in” with its orbit around Earth due to “tidal friction”. It takes the Moon the same time to spin round once on its axis as it takes to orbit the Earth once. The consequence of this is that we get to see only one side of the Moon facing the Earth as the Moon orbits the Earth. Tidal friction is still observed even though there is not any liquid water to exhibit tidal motion. The part of the sphere facing a planet will be closer (and hence feel a greater gravitation pull or force) towards the planet. This causes the rocks on that planet’s Moon to stretch or bulge at the equator (distorting the sphere a little from being perfectly round in shape). The energy lost through the friction in the rocks causing the stretching comes from the rotating energy of the spinning moon leaving less energy to spin (causing it to slow down). The moon Charon which is similar in size and close to Pluto, has an exaggerated double tidal lock, which has caused the spinning rate of Pluto to match Charon, so that both the Moon and Pluto have one side each that face each other at all times. In the case of Earth, if this were to happen (it won’t!) our day would be slowed down to 42 current Earth days (1000 hours). The Moon would have moved off out of orbit from Earth, and imagine the changes in climate that would then ensue!”