Bob finished second in class at
Hamilton Boys High School in 1965 with a National Scholarship. With
these high marks (e.g. 7th in New Zealand in Physics), he could have
skipped Intermediate year at University completely, and gone directly to
the 1st Professional year. But he was already a year younger than his
peers, having been pushed ahead in primary years with booming growth in
post-WWII demands on schooling from returned servicemen's families. He
wanted to become an engineer due to the role model of my
Scoutmaster, Morrinsville's Borough Engineer.
So he persuaded Dean Bogle to allow him to do first year with a different set of subjects (than the
normal "Physics I", "Chemistry I", "Maths I", "Applied Maths I" used to
weed out candidates for Engineering school).
So instead he did second year science courses, plus "Philosophy I" - it
was mutually fascinating for these Arts students to have a 'scientific'
type in their midst. He aced 'Aristotelian logic' section,
precursor to capabilities that would flourish in doctoral
1st Pro year was out at the Ardmore
campus, former WWII airfield whose hangers had been converted to labs
and their dorms for students. We were 400, all-male students in those
days, with a work-hard/play-hard ethic that erupted in large-scale
April Fools day events, in Capping week "Procesh" with haka
party, and cross-the-harbour races with home-built
Final two years were in the new Symonds St Engineering
School of the
University of Auckland, and he graduated in
Chemical & Materials Engineering with 2nd
Class Honours, Div I.
Because C&M was a brand-new department, his small class also got
to work hands-on with the technicians to build the experimental
apparatus which became the pilot plants in teaching labs.
One unique feature of both NZ Engineering Schools is a requirement for
three full summers of work experience, totaling 1200 hours, with a
report about your work and the place, describing clearly the
technical work done in and around your portion of that summer employment.
The first such work experience was to
be under the direct supervision of a technician or a craft tradesman, to learn how
to take orders so as to better understand how to give direction later in
one's career. His first summer was in an N. Z. Highway's department regional
depot, repairing the cab of a crane. Second summer he conducted field trials of hydrocyclone tailings separation for
North Broken Hill
Ltd. My third
summer was in the lube units of
Shell's Geelong refinery
on heart exchanger optimisation, before returning to a post-graduate degree in Auckland.