Creating a sustainable future

Erin Lim

Meet Erin Lim, the Francis Small Scholarship winner with big goals for the future.

Erin grew up in the town of Hawera in South Taranaki and attended Hawera High School. With a civil engineer for a father and a maths teacher for a mother, it wasn’t a surprise that she developed an interest in science and maths from an early age.

As a child, Erin had a fascination with how things worked and would often be found taking things apart to get a closer look. Most of the time she could put them back together – but there were definitely a few objects sacrificed to feed her curiosity. Engineering seemed like the perfect marriage between her love of discovery and passion for STEM.

Taranaki is the home of the oil, gas and energy sectors. It also has one of the largest dairy factories in the world — which happened to be just down the road from where Erin grew up. Being surrounded by these industries, she was inspired to pursue a career in chemical engineering.

She started her Bachelor of Engineering (hons) degree at the University of Auckland in 2014 and specialised in Chemical and Materials Engineering. During her undergrad degree, she had the opportunity to complete her practical work hours as a Student Process Engineer at Ballance Agri-Nutrients in Kapuni, South Taranaki – the only ammonia-urea plant in the country.

It was while Erin was completing her honours degree in Chemical and Materials Engineering that she developed an interest in sustainability and the environment.

Erin has always envisaged a world where the fundamental needs and aspirations of life can be met now and in the future – whether it be the food we eat, the air we breathe, or the water we drink. She wants to do everything in her power to help achieve this vision of a sustainable world. That’s what drove her towards studying a Master of Environmental Engineering at the University of Auckland.

At the end of her studies, she intends to pursue a career in the water treatment sector. Her goal is to ensure clean safe drinking water, as well as the treatment of human waste, can continue to be achieved and provided sustainably with New Zealand’s steadily growing population.

Erin applied for the Francis Small Scholarship to help with living expenses and course costs while she completes her degree. The Scholarship was established in 2015 by Dr Francis Small, who graduated with a ME and PhD in Civil Engineering from the University of Auckland. This led to a successful career, and he became the Managing Director of New Zealand Rail and Tranz Rail Ltd. His wish was to enable others to study for an ME and experience the opportunities that this will create for them. The main purpose of the Scholarship is to assist a student to undertake research masters study in Engineering, especially where this funding would make a significant contribution to their financial needs.

She was extremely grateful to be awarded scholarship as she’s currently working part-time at a restaurant while studying full-time. With the help of the scholarship, Erin has been able to reduce her work hours and focus more of her time and energy on her masters research without financial pressure.

When she’s not at school or work, Erin enjoys playing football and surrounding herself with music – guitar and piano, and going to concerts and musicals.

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