Tiwai celebrates 10 years of supporting students

NZ Aluminium Smelters general manager Gretta Stephens, with Southland Girls' High School students Imogen Brankin, Tayla ...
John Hawkins/Stuff

NZ Aluminium Smelters general manager Gretta Stephens, with Southland Girls' High School students Imogen Brankin, Tayla Lumsden, Catherine Wylie, and Bailey McColl, who have been selected for a week-long placement at the Tiwai Point smelter.

Two Southland institutions have celebrated the anniversary of a programme changing attitudes about women in engineering. 

For the past 10 years, Southland Girls' High School students have had the opportunity to get a first-hand experience of what it's like to work as an engineer at the Tiwai aluminium smelter. 

At a special assembly on Tuesday, students, smelter staff, and dignitaries spoke on the achievements of the programme. 

NZ Aluminium Smelters general manager Gretta Stephens talked about the importance of engineering for Southland, and the growing opportunities for women choosing to make it their career path. 

Invercargill mayor Tim Shadbolt also spoke, along with parliamentary candidates Sarah Dowie, Ria Bond, and Dr Liz Craig. 

Since the partnership began in 2008, 41 students have gone through the programme, with four more set to start their placement on Friday. 

The year 13 students involved will spend a week on site at the smelter, working with engineers on projects. 

At the end of their stay, they have to present their findings to engineers and management. 

It was a "fantastic" opportunity for both students and Tiwai staff, Stephens said. 

"There was nothing like this when I was a high school student. When I was the same age as these girls I'd never even considered engineering as a career.

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"All the work is stuff we need to know about ... and the teams enjoy having all that young energy coming into the plant."

Former Girls' High physics teacher Paul King, who helped kick start the programme, said there had been a visible change in attitudes throughout the past 10 years. 

"It's a bit of a competition to get in now, we have to select the candidates now rather than asking them to go."​

 

 

 

 - Stuff

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