Not many university students get to go to Antarctica while they’re studying, but Nick Humphries did and even managed to make himself useful when he was there.
Nick is graduating in December from the University of Waikato with a Bachelor of Science majoring in computer science, and he says it’s important to make the most of your time at university, to take every opportunity that comes along.
“I got to go to Antarctica on an internship, selected by the Sir Peter Blake Trust for the Antarctic Blake Ambassador role. I was lucky enough to go to Scott Base for seven days where I learnt how the base operated and the areas where staff working there needed more education or information.
“Alongside the knowledge gained from the trip, I developed an e-learning web app to teach people what types of fluids they could and couldn't put down the drain while at the base.”
While at uni, Nick also managed to start his own software programming business. It’s called LuminateOne, based in Matamata where office rental is cheaper than the city, and which now has a staff of seven. “I run the development team, do project business analysis and, when time permits, get stuck into the programming myself,” says Nick.
Nick’s a bit of a rare breed on the University of Waikato campus. He comes from Te Anau in the deep south where his family still live, and where he was head boy at Fiordland College and sat on Southland’s Conservation Board.
Two things prompted Nick to leave Fiordland for Waikato; the university’s reputation for computer science and the opportunity to take up a Golden Jubilee Scholarship.
Golden Jubilee scholarships, worth up to $40,000 were awarded to 10 students in 2015 to mark the university’s first 50 years. Nick was one of 200 who applied.
“New technology and making things has always fascinated me," he says. "So computer science was a great fit for this. I've always messed around with computers, from setting them up when in primary school to when I started programming by modding Minecraft when I was 12.”
Nick came to Waikato University not knowing anyone, but says he found it easy to meet people and make friends. “The worst thing was probably the lack of sleep, because there was always something to do. I missed the wilderness of Fiordland, but in my first couple of years, before I got too busy, I did try to get out of the city to experience some of the North Island’s great outdoors.”
He had planned to complete a four-year software engineering degree, only to change to a BSc in the last semester of this year because his business was taking off. “The university, and in particular the faculty, was very helpful with changing from software engineering to a BSc,” he says.
Next year, Nick plans to continue with his business and launch a new start-up looking at carbon emissions. “Long term I’d really like to be in a situation to continue with starting up and running technology-based businesses which make a big positive impact on the world, and Mars when we get there!”
Nick is one of 1382 University of Waikato students graduating this December. There are two ceremonies at Claudelands on Tuesday 11 December, another two on Wednesday 12 December, and two ceremonies at Te Kohinga Marae on the University campus on Friday 14 December.