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Local start-up’s valuable Victoria connections

22 Jun 2017 - 13:10 in Alumni

A local start-up is praising Victoria University of Wellington’s Software Engineering programme for delivering hard-to-find job candidates.


L-R: Victoria University alumni Stephen Nelson, Tim Jones and Luke Inkster at Montoux.

Montoux offers software that provides insights into life insurance companies’ products, pricing and profitability. The fast-growing Wellington-based business has clients in New Zealand and Australia.

Dr Stephen Nelson was hired at Montoux as a software engineer fresh after his graduation from Victoria in 2012.

Stephen completed a Bachelor of Science with Honours, and a PhD in Computer Science.

“When I was job hunting I had a few different offers but decided on Montoux because it was a start-up. That was attractive to me,” he says.

Stephen joined co-founder Gert Verhoog and fellow Victoria alumni Simon Doherty in a small office in Lyall Bay. Montoux’s development team has since grown to eight developers and the team has moved to the central city.

“At the start, it was really an idea. Gert had developed a prototype that they wanted to turn into a product. I spent my first six months creating a web platform that was useable for non-technical people,” says Stephen.

“I’m a full stack developer, which is a relatively rare role in New Zealand. I really like that my job is varied and I get to work on pretty much everything. And now working as team leader I get to contribute even more.”

Stephen isn’t the only Victoria alumni at Montoux. The company currently employs four graduates and one former postdoctoral researcher from Victoria’s School of Engineering and Computer Science. Another three alumni have moved onto other positions elsewhere.

Montoux is now starting an office in New York, and hiring a software engineer/data scientist to be based there.

“Our connection to the University is very valuable to us. We've employed quite a few Victoria graduates—all positive experiences,” says Gert.

“We hire senior software engineers because of the complexity of the work that we do and technology we work on. It seems to be a big jump from having an undergraduate degree to working on our large systems. This says a lot about the calibre of Victoria graduates.”

This is why Montoux, similarly to companies like Google and Facebook, often hires candidates with postgraduate education.

“The skills students gain through research is important—we apply a lot of research and theory to the problems we solve,” says Stephen. “Our employees learn a lot on the job, whether it’s programming languages or tools.”

Victoria graduates Tim Jones and Luke Inkster agree. They were both hired as software engineers at Montoux in early 2017.

“I’m enjoying the opportunity to be part of a company that’s doing cool things, in an environment that means your work is thorough and has to be constantly critiqued,” says Tim, who is in the process of completing his PhD in Software Engineering.

Luke, who previously worked at Xero, says he really liked the idea of working at a start-up.

“It’s interesting to build things from scratch and to be involved in the development of processes. At this point I still only know a tiny chunk of what the whole company is learning—you really have to apply yourself at Montoux. It’s great.”

Victoria University is home to one of the leading programming languages research groups in the Southern Hemisphere.

Welcoming Fanglue Zhang to Computer Graphics

16 Jun 2017 - 09:56 in Achievement


The School of Engineering and Computer Science (ECS) is delighted to welcome Dr Fanglue Zhang who has arrived from China to take up the position of computer graphics lecturer.

Fanglue holds a doctoral degree from Tsinghua University where he subsequently spent two years as a post-doctoral researcher. His research interests include computer graphics, computational photography, and image and video analysis and processing.

“Wellington is a great city with beautiful scenery and friendly people”, says Fanglue. “I hope I can make a valuable contribution to teaching and research at Victoria”.

Professor Neil Dodgson, Director of ECS’s computer graphics programme, is thrilled to welcome Fanglue to the team.

“Fanglue comes to us from the top university in China for science and engineering, and has been publishing in the best research journals for computer graphics for several years”, says Neil. “He brings complementary expertise to the research group and together we expect to do great things!”

It just goes to show

26 May 2017 - 09:14 in Achievement


Engineering and Computer Science graduates Glen Peek and John Gelbolingo were two of the innovative entrepreneurs who took part in the Victoria Entrepreneur Bootcamp Final Showcase recently, taking their smart business ideas from the whiteboard to the tech world with the help of Viclink, Victoria’ commercialisation office…

It was the show that had it all—from romance and entertainment, to altruism and humanitarianism—and it was all in the name of helping Victoria graduates to think like entrepreneurs.

The Victoria Entrepreneur Bootcamp Final Showcase represented the culmination of 12 weeks of intense exploration and discovery by ten teams of Victoria’s most innovative graduates and students, who presented their range of business ideas to a packed audience at the BizDojo in February.

“Each team starts out with an idea that they hope to turn into a business,” explains Emily Grinter, Viclink’s Entrepreneurship Manager, and Programme Manager of the Victoria Entrepreneur Bootcamp. “Whether they achieve that or not is not actually our primary goal—it’s the learning along the way that is important. We want to grow these young people into entrepreneurs who have the skills to take virtually any idea and work through the process to determine its viability.”

One of those ideas started out as a romantic gesture—“I wanted to find a way to leave messages for my girlfriend to collect around town”—but led Glen Peek to create ‘Stash’, an app that enables people to stash images, videos and text for others to find, anywhere in the world. While investigating different ways to create revenue from his product, Glen landed his first job—for Victoria University—delivering a digital scavenger hunt for students taking part in New Students' Orientation week. Stash is now available for download from Google Play and the App Store.

Also in the tech space, John Gelbolingo from Sweet Tea Interactive introduced his augmented reality app, which he is targeting at the GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums) industry. “Museums can use it to engage visitors with their exhibitions, and help them to experience art in a new and different way,” says John. And because the app’s motion capture sensors enable people to virtually ‘try-on’ costumes or garments, the team is approaching New Zealand Fashion Week and the World of Wearable Arts (WOW) to discuss future opportunities to work together.

Wanting to help tertiary students to better manage their money was the initial motivation behind team Blume’s app, ‘Teller’; however, significant market research proved their prototype wasn’t viable. The team has since identified another potential avenue for the product, and is looking at partnering with a financial advisory firm who may use the app to improve the way it engages with its customers (who are also looking to manage their money more successfully).

Team Par’s mentor-matching idea gained ground after their market research survey of 500 mentors found that 40 percent of volunteer mentors were still waiting to be matched with mentees. Par’s programme enables mentoring organisations to manage their recruitment, training, matching and managing processes more quickly and efficiently, so they can stay focused on the people that they are striving to help. Already working with the Primary ITO, among others, they are interested in talking to anyone who has a mentor-matching problem to solve.

Lack of access to sanitary products in New Zealand has been a hot topic in the news for a while now, but team Dignity have used the Bootcamp experience to do something about it. Their business model involves selling corporate subscriptions for businesses to receive regularly deliveries of environmentally-friendly sanitary items—and for every pack bought, another is donated to schools, so that girls won’t have to miss school due to lack of sanitary products. The team has already signed up a number of Wellington businesses who see the service as aligning with their value of corporate social responsibility, while Dignity’s idea has also been picked up in Auckland by the NZ Herald.

Climate change is an issue that, for many, seems just too big to tackle, with no easy way to take meaningful action. Enter team Colibri, whose winning idea from Climathon 2016 is focused on enabling individuals to offset the carbon footprints of their purchases with a small contribution that goes towards local climate change mitigation projects. Given that one third of environmental impact occurs on our plates, the team is now talking with local cafes and restaurants about using the Colibri e-commerce platform to collect those contributions.

Other presentations included: a social gathering platform (FlockIn) to connect exercisers with others to work out with; a 24/7 marketing tool (Maax) which combines human knowledge with external data sources to anticipate which products customers want, and when; a drink straw (Majiic Juice) that flavours the water with fruit juice when sipped through, and a programme (Exchange Link) that enables Kiwi university students to study abroad stress-free.

“The students in this intake have shown really impressive dedication to the programme,” says Emily. “Every single participant has taken advantage of the awesome opportunities that are made possible by our partners and sponsors such as the BizDojo (who allow our teams to pretty much live there while Bootcamp is on), Deloitte Private, Chapman Tripp and 1st Assembly. We simply couldn’t do it without them.”

To find out more about the Victoria Entrepreneur Bootcamp please contact Emily Sullivan at

Engineering Dean's List celebrates student success

02 May 2017 - 09:42 in Achievement


The Faculty of Engineering is pleased to announce that the Dean’s List 2016 has been published.

Introduced in 2011, the Dean's List celebrates academic excellence for students enrolled in an undergraduate degree at Victoria University, with each faculty preparing its own list.

Dean of Engineering, Professor Dale Carnegie, says the Engineering Dean’s List is a way of recognising exemplary student achievement within the Faculty.

“We are very proud of the considerable efforts of our students and congratulate each and every one of them who has been included on the Dean’s List 2016”, says Professor Carnegie.

“The list is a formal, published record of excellence within Victoria University and recognises the hard work, dedication and commitment to academic success that we encourage in all our undergraduate students.

“These students are now well-prepared for further study within the faculty and I am confident that this academic discipline shown early on will lead them into successful careers at the forefront of global technology.”

Engineering: Dean's List 2016

Ade-Simpson, Holly  
Baker, Jaiden  
Barnett, David  
Barnett, Logan  
Bennett, Bryn  
Blair, Riley  
Byrne, Liam  
Campbell, Bob  
Carr, Jonathan  
Chin, Janice  
Chong, Dylan
Clay, Gareth  
Cooper, Davis  
Craighead, Hannah  
Curry, Ryan  
Dennis, Liam  
Diputado, Eric  
Dobbie, David  
Edwards, Tom  
Fuge, Thomas  
Greenwood-Thessman, James  
Hack, David  
Hammond-Blain, Matt  
Hanna, Brady  
Huang, Joely  
Inkster, Luke  
Klapaukh, Benjamin  
Li, Callum  
Liang, Megan  
Libunao, Maria  
Matchett, Matt  
Miller, Chelsea  
Moody, Connor  
Moshi, Ewan  
Muller, Brandon  
Palado, Gabie  
Patel, Divya  
Pearson, Will
Phillips, David
Phillips, Tessa  
Robinson, Jack  
Russell, Ben  
Sanson, Jamie  
Savill, Patrick  
Schurhammer, Julian  
Singh, Harman  
Solomon, Rhaz  
Steffensen, Callen  
Tildesley, Joe
Yang, Rock  
Young, Dan

Postdoctoral Research Fellow vacancy in e-Learning

26 Apr 2017 - 10:25 in Administrative


The School of Engineering and Computer Science at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand's top ranked research University is seeking to expand its engineering programme. We are a School that prides itself on its collegiality and multidisciplinary collaborations with many of New Zealand's top ranked research clusters. This is an opportunity for you to develop your career at a quality institution in one of the most liveable cities in the world.

We are looking to recruit a Postdoctoral Fellow for a two year fixed term position to provide research support as a member of the newly established e-Learning Research Group within the School of Engineering and Computer Science. The Postdoctoral Fellow will conduct high quality research and develop tools for engaging Māori and Pasifika computer science teaching and learning. New Zealand schools are currently being encouraged to teach computer science topics as part of the curriculum. There is a lack of Māori and Pasifika material in this area and it is expected that the Postdoctoral Fellow will help in the development of engaging and supportive e-Learning tools (ranging from full courses to individual tools) based on Māori and Pasifika cultural concepts.

Preference will be given to candidates with a strong computer science background, particularly in e-Learning who can demonstrate an understanding of te reo Māori me ona tikanga.

Minimum Requirements:

• A PhD in computer science or related discipline such as e-Learning, graphics, games development and/or programming languages will be preferred  
• Proven research and publication track record within areas e-Learning, graphics, games development and/or programming languages over the last five years  
• Excellent written and oral communications skills in English.  
• Demonstrates strong interpersonal skills especially across cultures

For further information on the position contact: Dr Karsten Lundqvist, School of Engineering and Computer Science, at: / Tel : +64 4 463 5233 ext 8018.

Please do not send applications to this email address.

Applications close on Thursday, 18 May 2017.

For more information and to apply online visit

Victoria University of Wellington is an EEO employer and actively seeks to meet its obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi.

Software engineer wins top student award

10 Apr 2017 - 09:06 in Achievement


Victoria University of Wellington graduand Jack Robinson has won the Institute of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ) Ray Meyer Medal for Excellence in Student Design.

The 22-year-old was awarded the prize at a ceremony last week for his final year project. His project simplifies the creation of traffic management plans for roadwork sites.

“Whenever a contractor or event organiser would like to conduct work or hold an event on, or near a road they have to complete a Temporary Traffic Management Plan (TTMP). These are ten page documents often with hand drawn diagrams of the site,” says Jack.

“My project moves the whole process online and makes it much easier. Users can specify work sites on a Google Maps-like page and generate a fully contextual work site.”

The Ray Meyer Medal is IPENZ’s top award for students, and aims to encourage a new generation of innovative engineering designers.

The judges said Jack stood out as a clear winner of this award, with a well-presented project that had excellent commercial potential. They also commented on the excellent level of user-testing that Jack had engaged in.

Jack’s project was supervised by Professor Dale Carnegie, Dean of Victoria’s School of Engineering and Computer Science and senior lecturer Dr David Pearce.

“Jack was very motivated from the beginning and worked hard throughout the project,” says Professor Carnegie. “The award is great recognition of the work he has done—one that solves a real world problem. Jack displays all of the qualities we hope to instil in our Engineering graduates.”

Jack, who is now working as a graduate developer at Xero, will graduate with his Bachelor of Engineering with Honours in Software Engineering in May.

Huawei 2017 Seeds For The Future Programme

03 Apr 2017 - 11:40 in Achievement


We are pleased to announce that applications are now open for the Victoria University of Wellington and Huawei 2017 Seeds for the Future Programme.

The programme provides a vital link between classroom learning and the type of real world situations students will face once they enter the workforce. It aims to challenge and inspire students who are considering a future in technology, and to provide an immersive experience of life at one of the world’s leading technology companies.

Up to four recipients from Victoria will be invited to attend this programme in 2017, with preference given to third and fourth year students.

Successful candidates will attend a two week study programme based in Shenzhen, China, spending time at Huawei Headquarters and at its research and development laboratories. They will learn directly from those who are busy creating the next generation of consumer, enterprise, and network technology.

Recipients will also spend a week in Beijing to experience Chinese history, culture and language, and to gain an understanding of New Zealand’s largest trade partner.

As part of the study programme, Huawei will cover in full the cost of recipients' air travel, accommodation, travel insurance, entry visas and all meals. The date for the trip is yet to be confirmed but it will take place in the break in late August/early September 2017.

Please read the background information document and return your Expression of Interest form by 5pm on Sunday 9th April 2017 to

Students keep their eyes on New Zealand's water quality

29 Mar 2017 - 10:43 in Achievement


A water quality testing device created by third-year Engineering students will be developed for a wider audience after winning a World Wildlife Fund Conservation Innovation Award.

The River Watch Water Testing Device, which provides users with real-time data about the health of their waterways, was developed by students Matthew Hammond-Blain and Aidan Bennett-Reilly in one of their Engineering classes.

The pair began with two water-testing prototypes developed by previous students, and integrated the best of both into one watertight, user-friendly, higher quality device. They also worked alongside fellow team members who created an integrated Android app that can remotely read the data gathered by the device.

Dr James Quilty, a Senior Lecturer in the School of Engineering and Computer Science, says both the device and the app are open-source and freely available to the public.

“It’s out there if people around the world want to build on this device. They can take the schematics and source code and make improvements, providing they honour the agreement to return the improvements back to the community.

“It really is citizen science.”

The device was created in collaboration with grassroots citizen science organisation Water Action Initiative New Zealand (WaiNZ), which has worked alongside Victoria Engineering students for five years.

WaiNZ will use the $25,000 WWF prize money to develop the device into something that can be used on a wider scale—both within New Zealand, and around the world.

More information is available at

Taming tutorials: your secret weapon

21 Mar 2017 - 10:54 in Achievement


“My name is Howard Lukefahr and I’m a Senior Tutor within Victoria’s School of Engineering and Computer Science.

My job is to help students do well in their first year Engineering papers and gain admission to second year programmes. To do this, I work with the academics to develop and teach tutorials, labs and review sessions for a range of first year classes. I also offer individual help to anyone who needs it. If I am not busy teaching, I am always available to students who come to see me for help with learning.

University is very different from secondary school. It’s a lot more fun! Instead of memorising facts and equations, you get to really understand how they work, and then use them creatively to design useful devices. It’s certainly challenging, but also very rewarding.

In your college maths and science classes, you probably came across some pretty hard problems. But the exam problems were always the same as the assignment problems and the examples in class. At university, the test and exam problems may use the same concepts as the assignment problems, but they will be quite different. So new students also have to make the transition from remembering solutions to inventing solutions themselves. But once you’ve solved some problems yourself, you’ll really want to solve more – it’s addictive!

We also have some really capable student tutors. These are second, third and fourth year, and postgraduate students, and they have completed the same papers you’ll be taking. You’ll see them in your labs and tutorials, and also around campus. They are a hugely valuable resource to you, so get to know them. University is all about learning as much as you can, so we pick our tutors carefully to maximise your learning. Make use of them!

Another important part of the first year experience at ECS is the evening workshop tutorials. These run twice a week for a few hours each time. Students work on assignments, forming small groups to collaborate if they wish. Help is available for all first year students from multiple tutors, and as a bonus we provide students with snacks and refreshments at these sessions. Generally these tuts are a lot of fun. It’s a great way to catch up with your friends as well as staying on top of the first year workload.

It’s very important for students to get involved with all aspects of academic life as early as possible. Arrange study groups, come to the evening tutorials, and make the most of all the resources available to you, and you’ll hit the ground running. It’s a lot harder to catch up than to stay on top of things, so don’t wait until a small problem becomes a big problem. We are always happy to see students who need help, want to learn more, or just want to chat.

I also work closely with our ECS Pastoral Support Manager, Craig Watterson. If it all gets too much, he is your first port of call and also your most important contact in your first year, so you should get to know him as soon as possible. If you need academic help, he will refer you to me or another one of our tutors. If it’s something else bothering you or one of your friends, he will work with you to find a solution that you are happy with.

Our motto within the Engineering school is “Think it! Plan it! Build it!” This motto of course refers to technology, such as the awesome robots you will be designing in your first year, but it also applies to your academic career: Think about what you want! Plan how to get there! Build the skills and tools you need to do so!

For more info or to have a chat, you can email me at or visit me in CO261.”

Keep calm and carry on

13 Mar 2017 - 09:57 in Achievement


“I’m Craig Watterson and I manage the School of Engineering and Computer Science’s pastoral support programme. And no, ‘pastoral support’ is not about learning how to milk cows! It’s actually about helping all first year students with the exciting transition to university life.

A student’s first year of Engineering or Computer Science is crucial. It’s a major life transition. You have to be self-motivated for the many tests and exams. On top of that, you might have left home, shifted country, begun relationships – and need to work and have a social life as well.

I work closely with our lecturers and the Associate Dean of Students, and I manage two senior tutors who help with academic support for students through labs and tutorials, as well as evening study sessions. Pastoral care is about engaging students on a personal level so that they are in a good headspace to learn.

In the first two weeks, all new Engineering students take a diagnostic test so we can get an idea of their maths skills. Next, I contact students to make sure they are taking the right courses, and to make them aware of all the extra help available. We know that if students engage with pastoral care early on they gain confidence and quickly lose the fear of asking for help – it’s about providing a safe, caring and inclusive environment for students to thrive in.

Throughout the year I continue to monitor students’ academic progress, and where issues arise, I provide early intervention to help students get on top of things. This is usually an informal and confidential chat where we discuss what is going on and work together to find a way forward.

This can often be as simple as helping you get a time extension, or knowing who to talk to about dyslexia, or arranging to contact a course coordinator. I have extensive knowledge about all the services offered by the University, from academic support and social clubs, through to financial and health services.

I also know all about the staff, courses and processes within the School of Engineering and Computer Science. In fact, I can probably talk to you about pretty much anything you need! It’s all about making you feel like you can come and chat any time about your studies and how it’s all going for you.

I have an open-door policy when it comes to getting help and advice. No question is a dumb question at university! If I can’t help, I will direct you to someone who can. The best thing to do if you have a friend who needs help is to bring them to see me. Together, we can overcome the many challenges of university life.

You are going to have fun and learn a lot during your first year. We have some amazing lecturers that are simply inspirational. You’ll be playing with programming and even designing and building functional robots from day one. Our student Engineering club also offers fun social events such as quizzes, paintball and LAN parties.

For more info or to have a chat, email me at or visit me in CO253.”