Kara Donaghy is studying the New Zealand Certificate in Electrical Engineering Theory at Southern Institute of Technology (SIT).  More commonly referred to as a ‘pre-trade electrical course’, students studying this programme use it as a stepping stone towards gaining an electrical apprenticeship, learning both theory and practical skills integral to the work they will undertake in their journey to becoming a fully qualified electrician.

As a female in a male-dominated field, Kara doesn’t let that worry her; she knows what she is good at and what she enjoys. Having come first in her high school STAR electronics class, she had some idea of what she was getting into when she enrolled in the full-time course after finishing high school.

“At high school I was tested and told I had dyslexia so throughout school I didn’t really like english, but enjoyed maths and science more.”

Finding the assessments the hardest part of her course as they are mostly theory based, Kara still maintains that, “I believe (and this is coming from a dyslexic person), that the knowledge we are taught is provided in a clear and simple way, with easy to understand language and diagrams.”

Kara decided to enrol in the programme at SIT following both her parent’s advice.  “My mother always told me to get a trade under my belt before anything else and my father recommended I go into a career that will provide plenty of work opportunities.  As a teenager I thought this was a bit stupid.  I wanted to do something awesome like product and design, architecture or engineering, but after looking around the universities, I thought that environment seemed too stressful for me and I went back to considering my parent’s advice.”

Kara Donaghy

Remembering her success in electronics class and having had family members work in the electrical business, she decided to pursue an electrical apprenticeship, enrolling for the 2018 intake of SIT’s ‘pre-trade’ course.

“It’s not all serious work, we have our fun within the course too.  Our tutor gave us a small DC fan (a fan that would be found within a computer) the other day and told us to play with the voltage and see what happens when you increase and decrease the DC voltage.  The more voltage, the faster the fan goes and some of the boys in the class increased the v

oltage drastically and caused the wires in the fan to burn from too much current.  Theory could have taught us that, but the tutor wanted to show us that it actually does happen (in a controlled and safe environment).  The SIT electrical classroom is filled with extra protection for the wires and other electrical equipment.”

Coming straight from high school to tertiary study, Kara appreciates that studying at SIT she is treated as an adult but in an environment that is not overly stressful.  “What I mean by that is if you have a hard time while at SIT, there are people that can help, providing assistance with studying or anything else you may be struggling with.  There are also events and experiences within the course which give you a range of awesome options you could consider after study.  For example, Girls with Hi-Vis, which was hosted by PowerNet and Connexis for females to get into the high voltage area and showcase the potential there is within the industry, as well as a trip to Adventure Southland for a first aid course and heading to Manapouri power station later this year”.

Kara is now considering getting into high voltage as her experience with Girls with Hi-Vis was a lot of fun.  For now however, she is focused on finishing her course and gaining an apprenticeship to become qualified.