COVID-19 Update: Auckland is now at traffic light Red.

Open main menu Close main menu

Building industry scholarship winners

Career changes led to scholarship wins for two Unitec students.

Two Unitec students have recently been awarded Excellence Scholarships by the New Zealand Chinese Building Industry Association (NZBIA); an annual award honouring the top students across Unitec’s Architecture, Building Construction and Engineering schools.


Unitec’s partnership with NZCBIA stretches back nearly 20 years, and Unitec’s head of the School of Building Construction, Paul Jeurissen, says the two organisations work collaboratively on programme promotion and professional development for members and students.

“We’re extremely grateful for the generous scholarship and job opportunities that NZCBIA offers our architecture, construction and engineering students,” he says. “They provide an invaluable link to industry connections.”

A perfect landing for Bill

Twenty-three-year old Bill Rattenbury was on his way to fly float planes in Canada when New Zealand – and the rest of the world – started shutting down last year due to COVID-19.

The Auckland-based pilot found himself at a career crossroads and started looking at retraining opportunities, aiming to capitalise on the Government’s free trades training scheme under the Targeted Training and Apprenticeship Fund.

He’d always had an interest in engineering and opted to study at Unitec because of the practical nature of its course and its connections with industry partners.

“I enjoy making things and discovering how they work, so it aligned perfectly for me,” he says.

He’s currently halfway through the two-year Diploma in Electrical Engineering at Unitec, and says he’s really enjoying it.

“It was a big commitment for me to decide to go back to my studies, but I’m really pleased I have,” he says. “The Diploma is a great base to launch from, either into the workforce or further study.

He was stoked to win one of two NZCBIA scholarships, and thought the text he got when he was camping at Tawharanui was a joke.

His partner is studying conservation science and they both have part-time jobs. He says the prize money will definitely be useful and help take the pressure off.

Bill is currently applying for summer internships and says he’s considering going on to study for a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering once he’s finished his Diploma next July.

From world currencies to waterways

Thirty-four-year-old Gloria Zhou, who came to New Zealand from her native China in 2014, is currently juggling full-time study with the demands of two young children and a husband at work during lockdown.

The West Auckland mum doesn’t give up easily though, and with a Master’s in Financial Economics already under her belt, she’s used to hard work.

Gloria finished her finance degree in 2015 but after three years in the workforce, decided finance wasn’t for her. She quizzed her engineering friends for the best career pathways into the industry, tapping into their expertise.

With a keen interest in engineering design, and in particular waterways, she opted for the two-year Diploma in Civil Engineering at Unitec, seeing it as a great way to learn in a hands-on way and make lasting connections with prospective employers.

She says she was very encouraged by her scholarship win, and humbled by the number of submissions. Once she graduates, she’d like to find work as an engineering consultant with a civil firm, focusing on water resource-related and storm water projects.

But with her focus for now firmly on finishing her studies, she says the support of her lecturers and fellow students has helped her through what has been a challenging past year.

“Unitec has been incredibly supportive,” she says. “My lecturers have been very understanding of my situation, especially during lockdown. They’ve been in constant contact and I really have been made to feel I’m part of the Unitec whānau.”