Wintec Bachelor of Engineering student Lemual Chand knows more about the conductivity of carbon fibre than most professional engineers.

The Stratford local spent his summer working at New Plymouth’s Armatec Environmental Limited, amidst an experienced team of chemical engineers and fibreglass fabrication technicians working on a range of industrial and municipal projects including the design and manufacture of industrial fibreglass products and systems to assist customers to reduce emissions to the environment.  

Lemual was brought in to work on a project that sought to expand product line functionality by adding heating and fan ventilation to complement existing passive systems for odour control. The business had identified that carbon fibre could provide inline heating for sections of pipe, tanks or other fibreglass applications, particularly in cold and damp environments but further investigation and trials were required to build a technological knowledge base for its application. Lemual researched materials that might be suitable and worked collaboratively with the business’s R&D team to design, fabricate and test different prototypes, documenting and reporting on his findings as he went.

Mechanical, rather than electrical engineering is Lemual’s specialisation, but Armatec put his problem solving abilities to good use, and Lemual relished having the chance to learn new skills and try something outside his area of study. Armatec provided materials and mentoring, including the use of Skype and Yammer to give him access to expertise from around the country. 

Armatec’s research and development manager Catherine Taiapa points out that learning went both ways between Lemual and those staff working with him.  

“It was a great way to grow our knowledge and mentor new talent. Lemual fitted in really well with team and the culture of our organisation, and we were really pleased with the outcome of the project,” Catherine said.
“We would definitely consider taking on a summer student again in the future.”

The placement was mutually beneficial, with Lemual confident his hands-on industry experience will make him more valuable to future employers once he graduates.  

Lemual’s time with Armatec was made possible by a Callaghan Innovation Research and Development Experience Grant, which funds undergraduate students for 400 hours of work for a minimum of $18 per hour. Businesses can engage a student from science, technology, engineering, design or business studies to help fulfil an R&D need. Businesses must be capable of mentoring a student and giving them a taste of working in an R&D team.  

To find out more or to apply for a grant, contact the team at Venture Taranaki on 06 757 6055 or check out the Callaghan Innovation website