Elena Hofman -
Opus International Consultants, Greymouth
Elena Hofman joined the Opus cadetship
programme four years ago when she finished sixth form. She was
always interested in maths and physics, and wanted to do something
which was hands-on and mentally challenging Ė so a career in civil
engineering was ideal for her.
Elena says, "My role at Opus is extremely
varied, and Iíve gained a wide range of experience. At the moment
Iím in Christchurch, working on a project for the Ministry of
Education. My role is to assess and report on earthquake damage to
school hardstand areas such as car parks, courtyards and walkways.
"When Iím in Greymouth I could be doing anything. My job includes
rock fall and slip monitoring, bridge and culvert inspections and
building construction monitoring. I also do a fair bit of
geotechnical work such as ground investigations for both building
foundations and state highways. Iím just starting to do more work in
the structural team too, assisting in earthquake assessments of
"Opus cadetships include study towards professional qualifications.
So far, Iíve gained a New Zealand Diploma in Engineering (NZDE)
and a New Zealand Diploma in Engineering Practice (NZDEP).
"I completed the NZDE through block courses at the New Zealand
Institute of Highway Technology (NZIHT), and worked towards the
NZDEP at the same time. Combining work and study has worked
very well for me. With the NZDE I found that I could apply
a lot of the theory straight to my job. Being able to use my
knowledge in a real life setting really helped me to learn.
"I completed the NZDEP through InfraTrain. It focuses on
practical skills and builds on the theory covered in the NZDE.
Itís a good qualification to have because itís well-regarded by
industry, and shows that I can apply my knowledge in a practical
"Now Iíve gained the NZDE and NZDEP Iím eligible
for registration as an Associate Member with the Institution of
Professional Engineers (IPENZ).
"Iím continuing my studies with a Bachelor of Engineering through
the University of Southern Queensland. Iíll be completing it through
distance learning, which should take around four years. Iíve already
done the first semester, and have cross credited some of the units
from the NZDE towards it. My long term career goal is to
become an IPENZ Chartered Professional Engineer.
"I think we need to attract and retain more female engineers to help
expand the skill set within the industry. We think differently, and
it is good to get a different perspective on things. I enjoy working
in civil engineering and challenging the stereotype that engineering
is a guy's job. I would definitely recommend engineering as a career
for both men and women as it is a very interesting and rewarding
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