Making a career change

Amy Sutherland sitting outside WelTec campus

Follow Amy's career swap from teaching to engineering.

Changing career is a big commitment. For Amy Sutherland it involves three years’ study while raising children, but she’s enthusiastic about the opportunities to pursue her passion for the environment through engineering.

Next step on a learning journey

With a childhood interest in maths and Lego, Amy has had a lifelong interest in how structures and systems affect our lives.

She completed a Bachelor of Science and Primary Teaching and taught for a number of years before spending time at home with her children. After returning to work in other roles, Amy decided to take her next career step.

Practical problem solving with real-life scenarios

“I chose engineering because I wanted something more practical – using problem-solving skills with real-life scenarios.”

Amy considered the various engineering study pathways and decided the Bachelor of Engineering Technology (BEngTech) was the ideal choice. “It’s in-between the diploma and honours degree and is a good combination of applied science and scientific knowledge.”

Amy is now in her second year at WelTec, studying towards a BEngTech in civil engineering.

An interest in the changing uses of water

Amy is particularly interested in how water is used in engineering.

“Water is so accessible, it’s an essential part of our daily lives and is almost an invisible resource but it impacts on everything we do. I’m interested in the changing uses of water and looking at water as a resource, as a highly valued commodity. I’m keen to engage in a dialogue with people about the impact of their activities on water usage and look at how that influences the natural and built environments.”

Graduate Women Wellington Scholarship winner

Amy was awarded the 2018 Graduate Women Wellington Scholarship which went towards her student fees.

WelTec director academic Dr Ruth Anderson said, “Amy demonstrates strong leadership, a commitment to her chosen profession, and an ability to make a significant contribution to engineering and the wider community.”

Using science to make an impact on people’s lives

Amy says the main reason she chose the civil engineering qualification was the opportunity to help the community.

“The study is like a coming together of two streams, environmental science and my other area of teaching and parenting – working with people. It’s about the way we live in the environment, how the environment affects us, and engineers using science to make an impact on people’s lives.”

Always a risk to step into a different field

Amy is enthusiastic about the opportunities for anyone considering a career change.

“It’s always a risk to step into a different field, but I’d encourage older people and parents to take a chance and study something that is close to your passion and strengths.”

Find out more

Check out our advice pages if you’re thinking about changing your career.


  • WelTec, 'Congratulations to Scholarship Winner Amy Sutherland', 23 February 2018, (



Updated 18 Oct 2019