The best thing was my lecturer really enjoyed teaching. That takes learning to the next level.
Bachelor of Information Technology
Richard Horne’s always had an interest in computers but, by his own admission, he wasn’t great at school, “I had pretty average grades.”
However, he was determined to follow his passion and soon realised the interactive teaching style at Otago Polytechnic suited him.
“I found something I was interested in and that was it, I was sold.” He shyly explains that nearly all of his grades were A’s and A pluses.
Initially, Richard studied a Certificate in IT Service and Support. From that he got a job at a help desk. But he found that he just wanted to keep learning, so returned to Otago Polytechnic to study for a Bachelor of Information Technology.
“The best thing was my lecturer really enjoyed teaching. That takes learning to the next level”
Richard shines at programming, and was chosen to help develop open source gaze control software – a programme where users can operate a Windows computer using only their eyes.
“It was amazing what we could do with off-the-shelf technology. We hacked it to make it useful and effective - to make people’s lives better.”
Richard graduated in November 2016, then promptly got a job with the Dunedin City Council in the role of Application Support Analyst Developer.
Richard’s boss, Helen Hanson, says Richard’s doing a great job. “In his first weeks of working here, he was already giving real benefit to departments” she says.
Richard Horne’s always had an interest in computers. Now, thanks to his studies and determination, he’s forging a successful career in IT.
Read more about the Gaze Control Software: https://accessibilitysoftwarehub.github.io/
Read more about the Bachelor of Information Technology.
Everything I learnt was focussed on my project. It was amazing, everyone bent over backwards to help me
Rimu Boddy left school at 15 years old and became a fisherman. After nine years, he could see how technology would vastly improve the industry, but his IT knowledge began and ended with video games.
So, armed with a solid idea and unrivalled motivation, Rimu enrolled first in Otago Polytechnic’s Certificate of Information Technology (Level 4), and then the Bachelor of Information Technology. “Doing the certificate made the transition into study much easier” he says. “It was amazing, everyone bent over backwards to help me”.
He found maths and essay writing a real challenge, but was determined to succeed. “If I struggled with anything, I’d just talk about it with the teachers, and they made sure I got it.”
Rimu focussed every aspect of his degree on his project: a fishing reporting app. While out at sea, fishermen input information of their catch into an iPad and send the data back to shore via satellite.
Rimu says it’s a win-win for the industry and the environment. “Instead of catching as much fish as they can and hope that it’s what people want, fishermen can target species that are in demand and actually make more money. Because they can sell it before they even reach the dock, the fish is fresher as well. In turn, the government knows what fish is caught where, so can better manage the sustainability of the industry”.
Rimu’s company, Fishery Logistics Ltd, is consulting with the Ministry on the new fishing regulations, and his app is being trialled on several fishing boats in New Zealand waters.
Casting into the future, Rimu has leads in the USA and PNG markets. Once his Fishing Reporting App is established, this fisherman-come-IT guru already has plans for his next software development.
Staff at Student Success were so good. They really helped me get through. I am a mother, I work 30 hours a week AND English is my second language … actually, it’s my third!
Evelyn Barbosa De Araujo Tenorio
Evelyn Barbosa De Araujo Tenorio started studying at Otago Polytechnic when she first moved to New Zealand from Brazil in 2009. She started off with English classes, in her words “I had no English, I could say ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’, that’s it!”
Evelyn then took five years off to have a baby, and be with her young family. But the call of study was strong, and she returned to study Information Technology at the School of Enterprise and Development. “Staff at Student Success were so good. They really helped me get through. I am a mother, I work 30 hours a week AND English is my second language … actually, it’s my third!”
Evelyn says it’s difficult, but she feels extremely well supported, and she thoroughly enjoys studying. “The lecturers are all so patient, so good. They guide me all the way. Everyone is so understanding.”
Evelyn has just finished the Certificate in Information Technology (Level 4), and will return for two more years to complete a Bachelor of Applied Management. “I don’t think I’ll finish in 2018 though” she laughs, “I think I’ll look at a Masters!”
Evelyn has also taken on the role of Student Ambassador this year. “We help at events around the Polytechnic. My highlight was hosting the US Ambassador and a NASA representative.”
Despite all the pressures on her life, Evelyn knows she can do what she puts her mind to. “I don’t have that fear that I won’t be able to do this. I know that the Otago Polytechnic staff are with me, helping me all the way”.
We’re really nerdy, we’re always playing games and talking about games.
Andrew Napper and Lilian Kidoo
Bachelor of Information Technology
Some might say Otago Polytechnic students Andrew Napper and Lilian Kidoo are a match made in cyberspace; Andrew has just completed a Bachelor of Information Technology, Lilian has just completed a Bachelor of Design (Communication) and they both love gaming.
Both Lilian and Andrew are developing a game together, ‘Last Souls’, in which Lilian has designed the characters and Andrew has done all the coding and programming.
“It’s a survival game, with a map, and it’s much like chess but in a modern way with five characters on each side versing another person through the internet,” says Lilian.
“It’s a simplified version of some of the big games which are very competitive. This will be much more fun,” says Andrew.
Lilian grew up in Japan where gaming is more advanced and really popular. She says that from the age of six or seven she was always playing Pokemon. “I feel quite lucky because when I came to Otago Polytechnic I thought there’s no way I’d meet people who are into gaming as much as me - then I met Andrew and his entire flat was into gaming.”
“Otago Polytechnic is a great place for gaming. A lot of students in my Communication Design class were into art and making characters and everyone was really friendly, it felt like family. We were always looking at each other’s work and getting ideas off one another,” says Lilian.
Lilian is currently on a ten week internship with local gaming company Runaway Play and Andrew is working in IT, and they’re both continuing to develop ‘Last Souls’.
I feel very supported because the lecturers are totally focused on us achieving – there’s an open door policy so I always feel comfortable approaching them
Bachelor of Information Technology
Vincent Rijlaarsdam is a rising star in the IT world. The 20-year old Dunedinite is in his third year of the Bachelor of Information Technology degree at Otago Polytechnic, and already he has been involved with some ambitious projects.
Along with two colleagues, Vincent recently won the Spirit of GovHack award, for developing a website prototype which aims to make legislative data easier for the public to access. He shares in a $2000 cash prize, and is soon to depart for Sydney for an awards ceremony. “We’re super excited about showcasing the platform to the Australian teams – already there’s been interest from several groups around New Zealand,” says Vincent.
Vincent is also making ‘survey robots’ for his third year project: a concept initially developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States. The robots, once completed will be named Poli and Tek, a parent and child with anime-inspired designs who will interact and engage with students by driving around campus asking people questions with a camera recording conversations.
“The robots will become a powerful organisational research tool, and will also push the boundaries and see how comfortable people are talking to robots as opposed to a person,” says Vincent.
With graduation only a few months away, Vincent is already thinking about his future plans: "I’m hoping to work in Dunedin or Auckland for a bit, before working in Europe and traveling around the world from there!”
IT is a demanding and challenging career – but there are also some advantages to being a woman in a male-dominated industry!
Madhvi Rohit Laxman
Graduate Diploma in Information Technology - Dunedin
Madhvi Laxman has just started a new position in Auckland, as a Graduate Consultant for the Microsoft Dynamic’s team at Intergen.
Intergen provides information technology solutions to clients in New Zealand, Australia and North America – and Madhvi is joining the team as part of the company’s Graduate Programme.
“This is the opportunity of a lifetime,” she says. “I wouldn’t have received it without the Graduate Diploma in IT – and the support of the IT lecturers at OP, my family and friends.”
Originally from Africa, near Dar-Es-Salaam, Madhvi completed an Information Science undergraduate degree from the University of Otago, before she took a position at ACC for a year. Despite the valuable customer service experience this job offered her, Madhvi really wanted to work in IT – so she started looking for postgraduate qualifications in the area.
Madhvi wanted to make herself “more employable”. She chose the Graduate Diploma at Otago Polytechnic over other postgraduate qualifications due to its practical, ‘hands-on’ focus.
“The small classes at OP offer more support and interaction with your lecturers and classmates,” she explains. “The atmosphere was really friendly. Everyone was ready to help and support my learning whenever I needed a hand”.
Does Madhvi have any advice for those thinking about embarking on a Graduate Diploma in IT at Otago Polytechnic?
“Go for it! This qualification has given me opportunities I would never have gotten otherwise. Just do it, and be prepared to work hard!”