Jaco van Wyk

Jaco van Wyk

Electrical and Instrumentation Engineer, Beca, Tauranga
Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in Electrical and Electronic Engineering

The wide range of work makes his role exciting, says AUT electrical engineering alumnus Jaco van Wyk who now works for engineering consultancy Beca in Tauranga.

“At Beca, we do an extremely wide range of work, predominantly in the industrial sector. I’ve been involved in designing a new water treatment plant and pump station in Te Puke, redesigning and replacing processes for pulp mills, coordinating the redesign of power lines on a 46-kilometre stretch of a state highway, designing and installing comms antennas between power stations, and redesigning a fertiliser factory production line. The great thing about Beca is that you can easily progress into project management roles and have the responsibility of managing projects within your own discipline.”

As an electrical engineer, Jaco splits his time between the office and site visits for a wide range of industrial clients.

“I meet with clients, suppliers and project contractors to discuss current or future projects. I get involved in initial proposal work and develop the design concepts for clients, develop cost and fee estimates, and co-ordinate with other project disciplines to ensure the project design complies with New Zealand and Australian regulations and standards.

“I also draft up scope and specification documents on projects that are handed to tendering contractors to use in their quoting and installation works. These documents are step-by-step instructions to carry out all design work, as well as legal documents contractor companies need to comply with when doing any work. Once a project design is completed and the contractor installs the designed work, we do site commissioning and guide contractors through any issues or design problems to ensure the final installation works are done as per the design specifications.”

An inspiring university environment
Having long been passionate about anything electrical and electronic, Jaco completed an apprenticeship as an automotive electrician before he decided to take his understanding further and become an engineer.

“I had developed a love for electrical and electronics at school where we delved into programming, and during my apprenticeship I always saw myself studying further to gain a degree in engineering and start an engineering career. AUT had been on my radar for a long time due to the amazing atmosphere on campus and having a university environment that offered fun and enjoyment along with studying.

“Seeing different engineering concepts and different points of view opens one’s mind. The knowledge of the academic staff, the modern feel of the university campus and the great vibe made AUT an easy choice to complete my Bachelor of Engineering (Honours). Because I lived in South Auckland at the time, the AUT shuttle bus service between the AUT South Campus in Manukau and the AUT City Campus also made it much easier to study in the city.”

Jaco still strongly remembers one particular conversation with a lecturer.

“I was working three full days a week throughout my entire degree, while studying full-time. When I was halfway through my degree, I contemplated working more and moving to part-time study. One of my lecturers took the time to have a proper chat with me and convinced me that the best approach would be to push through the difficult financial time and complete my degree. This conversation has stuck by me over the years.”

Advice for future students
Jaco, who graduated from AUT in 2018, has some great advice for other students.

“My advice is simple: don’t let other people’s negative opinions dictate your future, and similarly don’t let your own worries stop you from achieving something great. Now is always the right time to put in the effort and do a degree if this is your goal.”

The right university environment will help you find our path, he adds.

“For those unsure of what to study, it sometimes takes being in the right environment to really find better clarity. If you’re studying at AUT, the important thing to note is that there may be options for cross-credits if you end up changing your study direction in a year or two. No big deal!”

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