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Hillary Moffatt

Automotive Engineering Graduate

A photograph of UCOL Automotive Engineering Graduate Hillary Moffatt

A self-proclaimed petrol-head, Hillary Moffat always felt that she was going to become a truck driver or a mechanic. After spending a number of years driving trucks, she felt it was time to take her career into the workshop and enrolled at UCOL.

Hillary has always been around trucks, with her dad working as a driver. She eventually worked with him as a driver for Fonterra

“Ever since I was young I remember Dad being on the road, and I used to go driving with him. I was always going to be a truck driver or a mechanic.”

Hillary’s first taste of UCOL came when it was still the Manawatū Polytechnic, where she studied photography and bartending. She liked the atmosphere there back then, so felt UCOL would be the right place to train for a change in career. First she completed the Certificate in Automotive Panel and Paint (now the NZ Certificate in Collision Repair and Automotive Refinishing). 

With that qualification under her belt, Hillary felt being a mechanic was more for her, so she moved onto UCOL’s Certificate in Automotive Engineering (now the NZ Certificate in Automotive Engineering). 

 “The support of the lecturers kept me focused on the programme and my future plans. They helped me into work experience, which was a big bonus,” says Hillary of her time in the Automotive Engineering programme. 

“The atmosphere was great. It had a family feeling. The class was tight knit and it was good to make friends with similar interests. I made a heap of life-long friends.”

Hillary is now doing her apprenticeship at Cummins Engine Company in Rotorua, after doing work experience at the Palmerston North branch while studying.  

“It’s a great company to work for. I’m learning an extension of what I learned at UCOL; the ins and outs of the diesel engine, how to rebuild them, diagnosing. It’s really cool learning on a day to day basis, and I’ve brought a lot of knowledge my lecturers gave me to my job.”  

Hillary recommends that people looking to get into a trade do a pre-trade programme first, so they have less bookwork to do during their apprenticeship.  

“Doing a pre-trade programme was a huge help for me. It kick-starts your apprenticeship. I brought 71 credits across to my apprenticeship.  When you’re trying to do your job and studying, you have to juggle your time more, so having a pre-trade qualification under your belt is a big help.”

Over the next few years Hillary is working to become a qualified diesel technician for Cummins. Eventually she wants to work overseas, as Cummins has sites all over the world.  

Hillary’s son has followed in her footsteps, having also studied Automotive Engineering at UCOL.

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