A University of Otago qualification provides you with the skills needed to manage information and complex concepts. These are qualities in high demand.
Job opportunities available to graduates with a degree in Bioengineering or Clothing and Textile Sciences are as far-reaching as the subjects themselves.
Recent changes in environmental, occupational health and safety legislation have resulted in increased employment opportunities in both public and private sectors and with industry. In industry there are many opportunities for employment, working in research and development, business, quality control, marketing, sales or management. In particular, the shortage of technology teachers is a perennial one, and graduates are in on-going demand for commerce-related positions.
Insight into the diversity of alumni employment and careers can be seen in snapshots of our graduates. See the detailed profiles of selected alumni below.
Frankie Daroux has always been quite keen on clothes and fashion, and she has always been VERY keen on science. Growing up in Auckland, she was also quite keen on getting away to somewhere new… so a degree in Clothing and Textile Sciences at the University of Otago appealed on a number of levels….
“I wanted to study something a bit different, and I really enjoyed the very direct application of the science of clothing and textiles. We studied a lot of industry-related real world applications. You could really see how what you studied applied to real life, with the relationship between people and clothing and the environment. It was great!”
Frankie then moved back to Auckland, working as a Graduate Product evaluator for Fisher and Paykel’s washing machine range. Her work involved checking that all machines comply with industry standards; testing to make sure changes in engineering don’t affect the functionality of the washers and development investigations into the trade-offs involved in changes to washing cycles:
“There are always trade-offs: if you wash clothes hotter, they get cleaner but the fabric may suffer damage; if you wash cooler but longer, will there be more wear? Those are the kinds of compromises we explore!”
Frankie made the most of her time in Dunedin, enjoying lots of skiing and cricket as well as being part of the Red Cross Emergency response team. She really enjoyed her studies too, making the most of the range of topics available in Clothing and Textile Sciences.
“There are lots of papers, and they cover the science as well as social aspects of clothing, the economics of international trade, fashion production… but it was the science that I really enjoyed! Doing the research is very cool, and the department is very research-intensive.”
Frankie completed a BSc in Clothing and Textile Sciences and then an MSc in 2009. The research for her Masters explored how washing a garment might mask forensic evidence of blunt force trauma. Again, the direct application of this research is obvious.
Joanna Stewart didn’t regard herself as a particularly science-y student… she found her niche studying Clothing and Textile Sciences and completing a honours degree in 2004, followed by a Diploma for Graduates in English.
“The degree structure allowed real breadth of study, from social sciences to really technical and practical stuff, as well as more business-focused papers. It gave a very broad overview. Lots of people take Clothing and Textile Sciences as interest papers, so we had all kinds of people in class. It was great!”
Now Joanna has put those skills to work at Fisher and Paykel Appliances, working as a product evaluator in their Product Development Laundry division. This varied and demanding job involved controlling product knowledge at all levels – for technical services, marketing, right through to the customers. Joanna is also responsible for ensuring that the products meet international performance standards, as well as working on product design to make sure Fisher and Paykel’s appliances keep ahead with new technology. New fabrics require new wash cycles, and as well as that the technology is becoming increasingly sophisticated. Joanna has been part of a team developing a wide range of specialist cycles including a fruit stain removal cycle, using her clothing and textile science skills to develop a cycle with optimal movement and temperatures. “One project I did a lot of work for was the new AquaSmart washer which is highly water and energy efficient. You use that knowledge without realising that you’re drawing on what you learned while you were studying.”
Joanna appreciated the topical assignments in class, on subjects like protective clothing for chemical and biological weapons in Iraq, and protective clothing for the motor-sport industry. She certainly made good use of everything she learned – a broad degree tailored to a varied and challenging career.
Braid stumbled-upon the Clothing and Textile Sciences programme at a study/careers expo when he was in seventh form at school. Having been involved in a lot of sport and through that involvement, he had developed an interest in the technical aspects of clothing and textile items such as outerwear for skiing and snowboarding or gear for tramping.
"Invariably our interaction with the wider environment is influenced by what we wear and issues that arise from this interaction are often exacerbated during sport or other physical activity. Without being able to articulate it at the time, that’s what I had a rough idea I was interested in and it turns out that studying Clothing and Textile Sciences set me up quite ideally to follow that interest. I took a paper in physiology during my first year of study and, for what I wanted to do, quickly saw the benefit of also understanding the human body."
Braid combined his study in Clothing and Textile Sciences with Physiology at undergraduate level as a double major and with Exercise/Environmental Physiology at postgraduate level (MSc).
"That’s one of the good things about Clothing and Textile Sciences—such a broad range of other disciplines are genuinely relevant pairings. Subjects like chemistry, forensics, or microbiology if you’re interested in the physical properties of textile products; statistics if you’re interested by things like injury prevention, marketing if you like the sales/promotional side of things, and anthropology, psychology, or history if you’re interested in social aspects of clothing and textiles."
Braid is working for the New Zealand Defence Force as a Technical Advisor within the Soldier Systems Equipment Management Group, looking after equipment that falls within the ‘soldier system’ and includes things like combat clothing, body armour, packs, boots, personal support items, and helmets. The role is varied and spans providing technical advice where necessary, investigating defective or unsatisfactory items, liaising with others on various R&D projects, and meeting industry vendors.
From Venice to New Zealand, by way of London, the constant in Laura Heraud’s life has been fashion. And today, three decades after finishing at the London School of Fashion, Laura has returned to school to add knowledge of textiles to her vocabulary.
“I married a kiwi and London became too big, too crowded for us and our second child was on the way,” Italian-born Laura says.
“I had worked in ateliers in London, deigning, pattern-making and running workshops. Designer jobs were hard to come about in Auckland, when I was offered a position at Deane Apparel (New Zealand’s largest marketer of uniforms and corporate wear, including those of Air New Zealand) I did not know what to expect. Soon the Product Manager position turned out to be challenging and rewarding and I realised that garments and fabric knowledge was imperative. I now run the product department there.”
Because she came from a fashion background, Laura had been thinking for a while that she needed more knowledge in the area of textiles – how they work, choosing materials and testing them. Although she would have liked to study full-time, life didn’t allow that, so Laura was delighted to find out about the Postgraduate Diploma in Applied Science (Textiles), which allowed her to learn and apply her knowledge at work straight away.
“It’s been an amazing experience. I would quite like to keep studying now – I say I should have studied all of this so long ago but the time is perfect now. My youngest child is 17 and I have more time to allow for study. You still have to sacrifice time at night and weekends, but that is the choice you make for knowledge.” Support for Laura, particularly as English is her second language and she hasn’t studied for decades, has been wonderful, she says.
Head of Department Professor Raechel Laing has been just an email away – “the distance can be a factor because it would be different if you were there in person, but I have felt very supported”. Laura hopes to take more courses – “I would like to further my knowledge and I feel this (distance learning) is a good way to learn.”
Career Development Centre
The University's Careers Development Centre is a useful source of information and provides students with assistance when looking to apply for jobs.