Keegan Hall

Keegan Hall

Keegan hopes his research will have a positive impact on the world, including helping industries to decarbonize and reduce their greenhouse emissions.


David Johnstone Charitable Trust, Te Ara ki Angitū Tokoroa-Putaruru School Leaver Scholarship, Research & Enterprise Study Award

Keegan Hall

Pushing aside his nerves, Keegan Hall, 23, stepped up to the podium at the Glowbox Arena in Claudelands on Wednesday last week.

As the selected student speaker for the afternoon’s University of Waikato graduation ceremony, it was a proud moment.

Born and raised in Tokoroa, Keegan attended Forest View High School in Tokoroa, where he was Deputy Head Boy, before starting university in 2018.

After four years of tertiary study, Keegan received his Bachelor of Engineering with Honours degree in Chemical and Biological Engineering.

Now, he was set to deliver a speech to a crowd of fellow graduates, and their family, friends, academic staff and University leaders.

“I think you will all agree that University was some of the best times of our lives - so far,” Keegan told the graduating class. “Continue to take your opportunities. They come in all shapes and forms, even failures.”

Coming to University wasn’t a given for Keegan.

He was the only male to go on to university studies from his school-leaver year at Forest View, and the first in his family to attend university.

In his final year at high school, Keegan taught himself calculus because it wasn’t offered, but was a required subject for studying engineering at university. His chemistry teacher, Miss Davis, taught physics to Keegan and a small group of students aiming for tertiary studies.

Once at University, Keegan thrived, achieving an impressive academic record over his four years of undergraduate study.

In his final two years, he achieved an outstanding grade point average (GPA) of 8.8, one of the highest ever in Chemical and Biological Engineering, according to his teachers.

When deciding on where to study, Waikato University was the obvious choice, says Keegan.

“Tokoroa is only an hour down the road and it’s been really good being close to home.”

Keegan lived on-campus at Bryant Hall in his first year, then went on to be a Residential Assistant there in his second and third years. It was a smaller hall where “everyone knew each other's names”, something Keegan appreciated coming from a small high school and a provincial town.

He found the campus “friendly” and his lecturers “supportive”, including first-year Engineering lecturer Dr Rob Torrens, who learnt the names of all his students.

“There were 250 of us and he managed to learn all of our names. He was a great first-year lecturer to have.”

Studying at the School of Engineering at Waikato was challenging at times, but Keegan enjoyed core papers such as Engineering Thermodynamics.

One memorable assignment involved a 24-hour challenge where students had to design a system that provided for the heating and cooling demands of a large food processing factory - tough at the time, but “rewarding” and “a good learning experience” that students were grateful for afterwards.

Through the University, Keegan had some great work integrated learning (WIL) opportunities, including a work placement at a Waikato pulp and paper plant and at a Bay of Plenty company doing research and design into sports impact protection equipment.

Keegan was the recipient of several scholarships including a school leavers’ scholarship from the David Johnstone Charitable Trust (2018), the Te Ara ki Angitū: Tokoroa-Putaruru School Leaver Scholarship (2018) and a Brian Perry Charitable Trust Undergraduate Scholarship in Science and Engineering (2019).  In 2022, he was awarded a Research & Enterprise Study Award, a University of Waikato Doctoral Scholarship and a Summer Research Scholarship, enabling him to do paid energy efficiency research over his summer break.

Beyond graduation, Keegan is hoping to do his PhD in Materials and Processing in the School of Engineering. If approved, his thesis will focus on open source process and utility systems synthesis and optimisation.

Keegan Hall