Scholarship rockets engineering student closer to dream career

Wednesday 19 October 2022

Ben Orwin-Higgs is one step closer to his dream career of being a rocket engineer thanks to the Dick and Mary Earle Scholarship which will enable him to complete a Master of Engineering.

After being inspired by SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy test flight in 2018, Ben, who was working in retail at the time, enrolled in a Bachelor of Engineering at Massey’s Manawatū campus. He will complete his Honours degree in Mechatronics Engineering at the end of the year, before embarking on a Master of Engineering next year.

When Ben left Palmerston North Boys’ High School in 2015 he had no qualifications in mathematics or science. After a couple of years working in retail and a short stint studying psychology, Ben’s pivot to engineering meant he had teach himself the mathematical skills required to gain entry to the degree.

“Before returning to Massey, I taught myself physics and calculus from second-hand NCEA Level Three textbooks while working full-time in retail,” Ben says.

The 25-year-old then had to take bridging papers in physics and mathematics to qualify for the BE(Hons) Mechatronics. This extended entry process into the degree has been no indication of his ability, with Ben maintaining an outstanding GPA of 9.0/9.0.

Ben has completed two summer internships as part of his undergraduate degree, including one with Massey AgriFood Digital Labs (MAFDL) to develop cutting-edge agritech robots. More recently, he has been working as an Avionics Design Engineering intern at Rocket Lab Ltd.

“After my internship, I successfully negotiated with Rocket Lab to conduct a collaborative master’s project and establish an ambassadorial role between the company and the university,” Ben explains.

“The aim is to provide a connection to industry for upcoming students interested in space. I have been extremely fortunate to become a representative of Massey’s engineering department on a national scale.”

Ben’s master’s degree has been made possible thanks to $10,000 of funding from the Dick and Mary Earle Scholarship, awarded by Universities New Zealand. The Scholarship was established for the support and encouragement of postgraduate research into aspects of technology in New Zealand universities.

“I'm super proud to have been awarded this scholarship as it really represents the effort that my supervisor, Dr Morio Fukuoka, as well as others in the School of Food and Advanced Technology, are making to increase the awareness of our school at Massey as well as our interactions and collaboration with major industry players,” Ben explains.

For Ben, the scholarship represents the value in pursuing your dreams, even if they seem lofty.

“A big part of the ambassadorial role I'm undertaking as part of the master’s degree is to similarly inspire upcoming engineers. If my experiences can spur even one high school student, undergrad or recent graduate who may be thinking; "what's the point, why try?", to pursue their dreams, I'll be stoked.”

The Capstone robot that Ben built as part of his fourth-year Honours project

More news

Scholarship sets student up for master’s in Stuttgart

Tuesday 16 August 2022

A gamble by Massey graduate Sarah Tallon paid off when she won a scholarship enabling her to complete her master’s in Germany.

Massey student awarded Women of the Future Scholarship

Friday 8 July 2022

International student Anjali Guwalani joins Massey University as the recipient of $10K Women of the Future Scholarship, awarded by Manapou ki te Ao, Education New Zealand (ENZ) India.

Massey awarded five Prime Minister's Scholarship programmes

Thursday 21 July 2022

Dozens of Massey students will have the opportunity to deepen connections with Asia and Latin America after Education New Zealand Manapou ki te Ao (ENZ) awarded the university five group programmes for the Prime Minister’s Scholarships .