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Breaking down STEM barriers

Breaking down STEM barriers

  • 01 Nov 2020
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Engineering Honours student Luke Fitzpatrick wants to use his acquired skills and qualifications to break down barriers standing between Pacific people and his industry.  

The New Zealand-born Samoan attended Mount Albert Grammar School in Auckland and is currently in his final year of a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) degree, specialising in Engineering Science. 

“Engineering Science uses math, coding and physics to solve really complex problems in all aspects of Engineering,” Luke explains. 

Luke, a Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP) 2020 Toloa Tertiary Scholarship recipient, has plans to take up a graduate role at Beca, an engineering consultancy firm that works throughout the Asia-Pacific region. 

“I would love to work with and help Pacific people through Engineering,” he adds.   

“Over the last year, I have developed a conversational agent at Beca which can speak Samoan. 

“This was to help get opinions from people on important matters, such as our Samoan and other Pacific communities, which may see language as a barrier. 

“I wish to continue with work like this which helps our communities to be heard and also provides us with employment opportunities.” 

Luke applied for a Toloa Tertiary Scholarship as he knew it would help to lift the financial burden from him and his family. 

The scholarships aim to encourage Pacific students to complete studies in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects at tertiary level and increase the number of Pacific people employed in STEM careers. 

It has provided multiple benefits for Luke, he says. 

“Along with gaining financial support, I was able to expand networks with my fellow Toloa scholarship recipients, past recipients, and within MPP. 

“It has also given me fewer worries about finances, allowing me to focus more on my studies.” 

There are 50 Toloa Tertiary Scholarships on offer for 2021, and applications are now open until November 9, 2020. 

Luke says applying for a scholarship is a win-win situation. 

“The financial support is a major benefit, but also, the possibility to be a role model for upcoming Pacific students in STEM-related subjects is a great honour.” 

Visit HERE to apply for a 2021 Toloa Tertiary Scholarship.