Engineering his future

Derek Evans
  • OP6520 : New Zealand Diploma in Engineering (Mechanical Engineering) (Level 6)
  • Condition Monitoring Programme Manager at Contact Energy

From an aviation background to a career in mechanical engineering, Derek Evans,with the support of his employer and the flexibility of distance learning has successfully completed the New Zealand Diploma Engineering (Mechanical Engineering) through Open Polytechnic.

Encouraging further studies

Derek was offered a job as a Mechanical Engineer with Contact Energy, though all his qualifications were in aviation, his new employer encouraged him to do further studies.

“I was very fortunate to get that job offer and for them to support me through my studies and get me up to speed on mechanical engineering,” he says.

Without the understanding and financial support of his employer, Derek’s study journey would have proved difficult as several of the courses in the diploma involve attending laboratory sessions in Wellington. 

“I’m based in Auckland,” says Derek. “My employer gave me the time off and paid for my travel and accommodation while I was away, so they were very supportive. I am quite appreciative of that.” 

Study that fits around him

Derek researched places to study the subject area he wanted and to do it in a way that would fit around him and found that Open Polytechnic was the stand out option for him.

“I couldn’t get the time off to study full-time or part-time away from work, so that’s the reason why I went with Open Polytechnic, explains Derek. They were the only ones that have done this type of level of study by distance learning.”

Confidence in his abilities

Gaining new knowledge in mechanical engineering has given Derek the confidence he needs to communicate with colleagues at a higher level.

 “There are a lot of things I can transfer straight across from my studies into what I am currently doing. A lot of information and concepts are directly related in some of the courses,” says Derek.

“Having that knowledge behind me now reassures me that I do know what I’m talking about, especially when I give advice and recommendations to management. I know I can go ahead and talk to the other engineers and managers from a position of confidence.”

Derek acknowledges that his studies have benefited him greatly professionally, allowing him to move into new job roles and responsibilities.

“Doing the study showed that I was willing to learn. The knowledge that I picked up from  study helped me understand a lot of the aspects of the role that I was moving into.”

Travel and study

Travelling around New Zealand managing the maintenance of power stations is a key part of Derek’s job role, so being able to study anytime anywhere was fundamental to his study success.

“I travel a lot, so I studied around the travel. You don’t have to be somewhere at a certain time and take down notes; it’s all done at your own pace.”

Derek found the Open Polytechnic study materials convenient to travel with and study on the go.

“When I was away [travelling] I would usually print one or two modules out from each of the courses that I was doing at the time and take it with me.”

Derek’s Advice

Derek encourages those students who may have put their studies on hold to carry on.

“Give it another go if you are already on the study track, says Derek. “Don’t let fear of failure stop you because if you don’t give it a go and you don’t try it, you have already failed. It is well worth it!” 

“I’m very happy and pretty proud that I achieved my diploma while working and raising a family, so it is quite an achievement. My family are pretty happy with what I have achieved.” 

Having that knowledge behind me now reassures me that I do know what I’m talking about, especially when I give advice and recommendations to management.