EIT engineering student Maia Niwa may not look like the average tradie but she does not regard gender as a barrier to her career goal of becoming a mechanical engineer.
At 18 she is well on track towards an apprenticeship that will lead her into a fast-growing service industry offering a wide variety of opportunities.
This year she is working towards the Level 3 New Zealand Certificate in Mechanical Engineering, widely regarded as the first step towards becoming a qualified manufacturing engineer.
Maia wants to continue her studies next year with an apprenticeship in the Navy and this qualification will set her up well.
She discovered engineering during a Defence Force familiarisation tour and was immediately attracted by the creative aspect of steel fabrication.
Although no-one in her immediate family has done any engineering, her parents were supportive when she decided to enter what has long been regarded a male occupation.
“They thought it was amazing and have been really encouraging,” she says.
So far Maia is more than holding her own on the course, showing a fantastic attention to detail.
She says she was really nervous (and a bit over-excited) when she first got to handle the fabrication equipment but with support from her tutors discovered she had a real knack for it.
Through her interest in hunting, she has already acquired work experience with a local gunsmith.
This complements the task-based learning she gets in EIT’s wellequipped workshop where she is gaining confidence at a wide range of basic engineering skills.
This includes the health and safety aspects which have become a crucial component of any trades training.
Maia is loving the challenges within the programme, and has not come across any gender barriers. She says her classmates as well as her
tutors and work supervisors have all been very encouraging.