Hannah Orchard

'I’m living the dream...'

  • Hannah Orchard

Bachelor of Engineering with Honours in Chemical and Process Engineering

Continuous Process Improvement Engineer, Winstone Wallboards Ltd, Christchurch

UC Chemical and Process Engineering graduate, Hannah Orchard, is one of New Zealand's top sporting talents, representing New Zealand at the 26th World Universiade in Italy against some of the world's best.

‘It was a fierce competition with many world cup riders competing. A snowboarding highlight for me was lining up against the then world champion in the semi-finals. She went on to win gold at Universiade and then gold at the Sochi Winter Olympics. I made it to the small final and ended up 7th. I also competed in some European Cup events, ending the 2013 season with my best world ranking 82nd.’

She has also taken home numerous medals, including ten golds, over four years of competing in the NZ Uni Snow Games held in Wanaka, and was twice awarded the overall female snowboarder of the Games, attended by more than 150 competitors.

Skiing from the age of four and racing while at primary school, Hannah began snowboarding when she started secondary school and has never looked back.

'I like speed, and love the freedom that snowboarding gives you and the variety of terrain it can take you to. I love the fact that it can be social, competitive and individually challenging, all in one day,' she says.

After attending Taupo-nui-a-Tia College, Hannah decided to enrol at the University of Canterbury.

'I chose Canterbury because of its great Chemical and Process Engineering Department and also because it's the closest university to the mountains,' she says.

'Studying Engineering limits you to two universities pretty much, and who wants to live in Auckland? I spent two years living on campus and I really enjoyed the campus life. The clubs at UC are awesome and definitely make life more interesting. UC is an awesome place to study.'

Hannah says that she has always had an interest in maths and science, but it wasn't until she was in Year 10 and a family friend who was doing the BE(Hons) degree lived with her for a few months that she was 'inspired to want to do the same'.

'I always wanted to do something chemistry-related, so it was either become an engineer or a forensic scientist, like in CSI. But Engineering seemed like the more realistic degree to go for, with better long-term career prospects.’

Hannah now works for Winstone Wallboards, the South Island manufacturer of GIB® Plasterboard in Christchurch as a process engineer.

‘I started working here in my final year of university and have worked in almost all departments possible. I love working as a process engineer as every day is a challenge. I get to go into the plant and get involved in projects, troubleshooting, and the day-to-day production of a product that is used almost everywhere in New Zealand.’

Having launched her engineering career, Hannah hopes to continue to snowboard and look for any racing opportunities that fit in with her work.

‘I’m living the dream as I have managed to get a great job and stay close to the snow.’

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