Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Master of Engineering
Being able to research something you love deeply and explore the unknown world is a wonderful thing, says Hui Zhang who came to AUT as an international student from China to study a Master of Engineering and is now working towards a PhD.
“When I was doing the Master of Engineering at AUT, I had the good fortune to meet Dr Sherif Beskhyroun. He is a global expert on the built environment, with over 20 years of in several countries. Under his supervision, I focused on structural health monitoring, an interdisciplinary subject involving sensor networks, data collection and analysis, artificial intelligence and other topics. Due to my strong interest in this field, I didn’t hesitate to pursue doctoral study next.”
For her PhD, Hui is building on her earlier research and is developing a monitoring system for large-scale structures using innovative sensory technologies. Her research is supervised by Dr Sherif Beskhyroun and Associate Professor Xuejun (Jack) Li.
“The main goal of an efficient and reliable structural health monitoring system is to increase the safety of civil infrastructures by reducing the impact of natural disasters on society and important assets.
“Several large-scale structural condition assessment projects have taken place in recent years in many developed countries, however in New Zealand there has only been limited local activity in this field of study so far. The general goal of my PhD research is to bring state-of-the-art structural health monitoring techniques to New Zealand.”
The right university environment
She is enjoying the modern university environment AUT offers, says Hui who is proud of receiving the 2019 AUT Dean's Award of Excellence as well as a Doctoral Fee Scholarship and a Summer Research Scholarship 2020 to support her studies.
“In my opinion, AUT is a very diverse and tolerant university. It’s young and energetic, but still has a rigorous academic style. There are highly respected professors and researchers who bring their decades of academic and industry experience to teach us tirelessly.”
The support available to students has been another highlight for her.
“I feel that students are well-supported, and there are many departments serving students. In addition to my studies, I have worked for the students’ association, AUTSA, as a postgraduate affairs officer and through that was deeply involved in many student activities. No matter what difficulties and problems students encounter, they can always seek help from AUT.”
Advice for other students
Hui has some great advice for other students who are considering taking on postgraduate study.
“Don't ever underestimate your potential – you’re better and braver than you think.”
She would also like to share the wise words of one of her supervisors.
“Dr Sherif Beskhyroun, one of my supervisors, once told me ‘Always be proud of what you're doing’. Every time I was at a low point or encountered any difficulties in my research, I remembered his words and summoned up my courage to start again.”