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Undergraduate Years 1966-1969

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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 years.

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 flotilla.

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.