1985 BE student


My graduation story.  A career that began with graduation during a recession. 

Brent Young

I graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering in the mid 1980’s from University, after years of depression, recession, and extremely high (double digit) levels of unemployment and a high interest rates in New Zealand and overseas.  Our graduating class of 35 students including myself faced an uncertain future at that time.  My graduation was also less than 18 months before our generation’s equivalent of the global financial crisis (GFC), Black Monday October 19, 1987 where the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost a stunning 22.6 percent in a single day.

Also at that time, personal computers were starting to become useful and with a strong passion for process modelling and control, I was interested in how they could be useful in the chemical and process industry.  So I started a Masters in computer control of evaporators.  I was hooked on research pretty quickly and transferred to a PhD and also became the Department’s part time computer manager, which upon graduation has led me to academic and consulting engineering roles in Australia, Canada and back in New Zealand, and involvement in a successful start-up that has recently been bought out by a Fortune 500 company.  I have never been unemployed.

I have also been in touch with most of my cohorts from that time, especially the five of us that went on to graduate studies.  From the class we have one SME business owner (the top student in the class), one CEO of a large company (the second ranked student in the class), one Professor (not the top student in the class), an Architect (one of my PhD cohort), high ranking managers (including another of my PhD cohort), senior process engineers, senior research engineers (including the other two PhDs from my cohort) and senior engineering consultants.   The class is working in and for industry, business, academia and government.  And we are globally spread from just below the Arctic Circle, to the southern tip of the south island and collectively have worked in every continent.

So the message is, follow your passion and do not give up hope.  You will be successful.

PhD student 1988

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