Doctor of Philosophy candidate
The calibre of the sport and recreation staff convinced him that AUT was the right place to complete his PhD, says Andrew Pichardo who came to AUT as an international student from the US.
“I chose AUT because of the world-class experts and leaders in the field associated with the AUT Sport Performance Research Institute New Zealand (SPRINZ). I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I knew I’d be in good hands with the SPRINZ network.
“What I’ve enjoyed most about my studies was being able to learn about research and the growth I’ve experienced as a result of studying through AUT. You’re able to connect with many talented students from all over the world and it’s a special, high-achieving environment that is exciting to be a part of. I would definitely recommend the postgraduate sport programmes to others.”
Exploring resistance training for adolescents
For his PhD research, Andrew focused on the benefits of resistance training in adolescent males.
“I was particularly interested in whether or not Olympic weightlifting movements – like the snatch, and clean and jerk – would be more effective than traditional strength training movements on measures of athletic performance and injury risk factors.
“I chose this topic because I’ve always been interested in the best training methods for young athletes and there hadn’t been much research done in this area.”
Andrew’s doctoral thesis was supervised by Dr Craig Harrison from AUT’s School of Sport and Recreation, as well as Dr Jon Oliver from Cardiff Metropolitan in Wales and AUT sport and recreation alumnus Dr Peter Maulder who is now at Wintec.
Advice for other students
Make the most of the opportunities is Andrew’s advice for other students.
“I would tell other students to make the best use of their time during postgraduate studies, as many of them are international students and may leave after their studies are completed. I believe the learnings through connecting with other students and supervisors are very valuable and can help direct your career.
“My advice would be to connect with other students and staff, try to get involved in projects, and take time to see this beautiful country that is New Zealand.”
Having recently passed his PhD thesis defence, Andrew is about to move back home to Texas to work as the head strength and conditioning coach at a high school. However, he plans to keep in touch with the people he met throughout his time in New Zealand.
“I’m hoping to continue to do research with students I’ve met here and other people I’ve met through the AUT network. I’m also planning to come back to New Zealand in December for my graduation.”