Sithum Nanayakkara

Sithum Nanayakkara

3rd-year student, Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in Mechatronics Engineering

He has a desire to help others, says Sithum Nanayakkara who came to AUT as an international student from Sri Lanka to study a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in Mechatronics Engineering.

“My ambition has always been to work in a medical engineering organisation like Fisher & Paykel Healthcare where I can directly help to improve people’s lives. What I like about studying mechatronics engineering is that it combines mechanical, electrical, computer and software engineering, and doesn’t restrict me to one path in engineering. I can explore a much broader area and use a variety of knowledge to contribute towards the betterment of the world using my engineering knowledge.”

Sithum says he researched many universities to select the best institution for his engineering pathway. AUT would turn out to be the right choice for him.

“AUT is in the top 1% of universities worldwide and is ranked first in New Zealand for its international outlook. I knew this would give me a chance to meet students from all around the globe and learn about their cultures. AUT is a good and well-recognised university, so completing my undergraduate degee here will increase my career opportunities in the future.

“What I’ve enjoyed most about my studies is the hands-on nature of some of the courses. That has been enjoyable and fascinating. Being able to put the theory you’ve learnt into a working model is what makes engineering fun. This hands-on experience further boosts your confidence as you know you can tackle real-life problems thrown at you once you go out into the industry.”

Making the most of the opportunities
Sithum says he has thoroughly enjoyed his studies at AUT so far.

“What I’ve enjoyed most about studying here would have to be the people I’ve met and all the opportunities studying in New Zealand has brought me. This allowed me to get out of my comfort zone, and improve and learn new skills.”

There are a couple of services for AUT students he has particularly appreciated.

“AUT’s Employability Lab is one of the must-visit services to improve your CV or get help writing cover letters. I’m 100% sure that getting help from the Elab team will boost your chances of getting into a good internship or job. Their almost weekly employer information sessions also provide a good opportunity to meet the industry and talk to your future employers. Finally, completing the AUT Edge Award is a must if you want to stand out to employers as it helps you develop all the skills employers like.

“The other service I’ve found especially helpful was the peer mentoring service, which enables you to meet students who have already done the courses you’re doing. They will help you clarify any academic questions you have about what you’re learning.”

Advice for other students
The advice Sithum would give other students is simple: say yes to new opportunities.

“Getting out of your comfort zone is the best way to improve your skills and stand out from others. This not only helps create more connections, which will lead to even better opportunities, but it makes you feel more connected to the people and New Zealand as an international student. I’m proud of myself for reaching out and tackling new opportunities – it has made my university life so much better.”

He says he would highly recommend AUT’s mechatronics engineering degree.

“If you’re a person who wants to have a wide range of knowledge and not be restricted by one engineering major, mechatronics has a lot to offer. Even if you feel that the degree is getting tough, there’s always help waiting to be provided by your lecturers and other staff, the Student Hub and a lot more student support services. Knowing that there’s always someone to reach out to is a great comfort.”

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