Johan Rickus

Johan Rickus

Air Force Engineer, Royal New Zealand Air Force
Bachelor of Engineering Technology in Mechanical Engineering

Ngāti Raukawa

Engineer or doctor? Like many school leavers, Johan Rickus initially found it challenging to choose the right career path.

“During secondary school, I had trouble deciding whether to pursue a career in health science or engineering. It wasn’t an easy decision, so I took a break from study and worked in Townsville, Australia, for two years.

“While on study break, I worked near the Royal Australian Airforce Base Townsville and witnessed aircraft test flights daily. After months of working, I thought to myself ‘All the hours of work I’m doing should be put into something satisfying, and aircrafts is where I could see satisfaction.’

“I also realised that my passion for health studies had become a hobby, and that prevention is better than cure. I knew studying engineering would give me a competitive advantage when applying to join the Royal New Zealand Air Force, so I then began to plan my career path.”

It’s a decision that has paid off, says Johan, and he is now training as an Air Force engineer.

Energetic and relevant
AUT is a university with a lot of positive energy and a great atmosphere, he says.

“I really enjoyed a lot during my time here at AUT. I loved meeting people who have similar goals to me, and I also appreciated the engineering staff, especially Associate Professor Tim Pasang and Dr Tim Anderson. They were so knowledgeable but also very humorous, and always managed to explain concepts in a very relatable way.”

Being able to work on engineering projects was a highlight for Johan.

“In my second year, for example, a group of us helped design an Agua pallet to easily store and transport water in various scenarios, including disaster zones and the Pacific islands. We brainstormed and then designed CAD models of the pallet, taking into account the effects different scenarios could have on the pallet’s product lifecycle. In our final year, we also got to design our own concrete mixer with detailed shaft design, drum diameter calculations and motor selection.”

Positivity and support
Johan has some great advice for other students.

“Be positive – it’s important to push through adversity and chase the dream. Defeat is the secret ingredient for success; a winner is a loser who tried again. Take the time to meet new people. My classmates and I helped each other throughout our studies, and I’m looking forward to seeing them graduate and work alongside them in the near future.”

He also enjoyed sharing his knowledge with other students.

“I enjoyed being a student ambassador, and being able to share my experiences with new students. The role of ambassador provided me with opportunities to meet other students and work alongside AUT staff. Together we helped to ensure that new students feel comfortable and confident when beginning their tertiary studies.

“I know that being a new student can be hard at times, but once you learn about yourself, how you learn best and how to organise what you need to do at university level, everything just flows from there.”