Gabriel Coelho

'There's nowhere better than the University of Canterbury for bringing together the best professors...'

  • Gabriel Coelho

Study Abroad student

Certificate of Proficiency Engineering

A fellow of the Brazilian government's Science Without Borders programme, Gabriel has won a scholarship to spend a year at the University of Canterbury on the Study Abroad scheme. Back home, he studies civil engineering at the Universidade de Fortaleza.

'I'm specifically studying project management, transportation and renewable energy,' he says. 'I am also a trainee for a consultancy firm in the sustainable construction industry, so I divide my time between study, research and work. The company I work at is participating in the Urban LEDS project, to make Fortaleza city into a model of sustainable practices and low emissions of greenhouse gases.'

Gabriel's career ambition is to continue in this field and ultimately run a company that gains global recognition for its contribution to the green building sector.

'Moreover, I would like to achieve professional and personal success in working for a more sustainable world,' he says. 'I have always been very curious about how humans can live in harmony with the environment, and how their actions affect it. Engineering is a range of things, which enables creation, innovation and improvement in so many areas of our day-to-day lives. I hope that large companies will change and absorb the idea that the world needs changes in construction methods and processes.'

Gabriel's interest in sustainability is one of the reasons he chose to study in New Zealand, at UC.

'New Zealand is known for its innovation in project management and for the use of sustainable certification in buildings. And there's nowhere better than the University of Canterbury for bringing together the best professors and professionals in the field. The University has a wide range of research in construction and I decided to be part of this group of researchers.'

Gabriel says he has been impressed by the quality of the courses he has been studying, and that they have helped deepen his interest in certain areas.

'The laboratories are very well organised, with excellent professional teaching. The lecturers are all wonderful. This has encouraged me and motivated me to work hard. The course has encouraged me to research more about project management and it has opened my vision in traffic engineering, and all that's involved in the movement of people and cargo. It has left me quite excited about researching renewable energy and its application in construction.'

Since he came to New Zealand, Gabriel says his lifestyle has changed dramatically.

'I am so physically active now,' he says. 'I've discovered that you can fully enjoy outdoor activities while studying, and it is very enjoyable. I love sports in general and have joined the snow sport club at UC. I'm learning to snowboard and I go to Temple Basin in Arthur's Pass periodically to practise.

'In my free time I like to explore rather than be at home. I have been to museums, met many new people and I am greatly increasing my networking. I love spending time at the cafés at UC, especially as it is not very common to have this at universities in Brazil. I am also a lover of classical music and I play the piano and classical guitar.'

As a newcomer to New Zealand, Gabriel has found it easy to settle and values his Study Abroad experience.

'I've always had an open mind about meeting new people and cultures, and I think that helps when you stay in a different country. People are very kind here. I had a few problems with the language and will adapt to the accent, but it has not interfered with my studies.'

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