Kristin Alumni – Team New Zealand
Five years ago, Elise Beavis was preparing to graduate with the class of 2012. She was stepping out into the world with a love of sailing, a passion for Maths and Physics, a plan to undertake an Engineering degree and a dream to work for Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ).
It’s incredible what can happen when you put your mind to it. After achieving a score of 40 in her IB Diploma, Elise fast-tracked her four-year Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) degree into three with the University of Auckland’s Accelerated Pathway programme. By December 2015, Elise had secured her dream role as a Performance Engineer with ETNZ.
Elise has since carved her place in the team that brought the country to a standstill with the ultimate David and Goliath battle: the 2017 America’s Cup. We caught up with Elise to find out what it’s like to be living the dream and learning from the world’s best engineers, innovators and leaders.
ETNZ’s victory was a dream come true for all involved. What were your favourite moments from your team’s journey to the America’s Cup 2017.
The launch of our test boat is one. A lot of work went into making it as close to an AC50 as possible. It was a step ahead of the other teams’ test boats due to aspects such as the rudder daggerboard separation, the systems on board and a complete fairings package. One of my major areas of work was designing the fairings, so seeing our boat sailing whilst our opposition trained with less refined fairings packages was a great feeling.
On our first day sailing our race boat, the world saw the bikes. We had kept this secret for so long, so it was great to have it out in the public and be able to share a little of what we had been working on behind the scenes.
Winning the Cup itself was the biggest highlight. Our team had been striving towards a common goal and had made so many sacrifices to get there. Nerves were high throughout the racing, so it was a huge relief when we finally crossed the line and won the America’s Cup. That relief quickly turned into massive jubilation!
You’re surrounded by some of the world’s best engineers, sailors and leaders. What does it mean to you to be immersed in this kind of environment?
ETNZ has been a great learning environment. I’ve had the opportunity to work on things such as aerodynamics, 3D modelling and 3D printing, running and analysing the results of velocity prediction programs and a small amount of programming. If I’m ever stuck or have a question, there is always someone I can ask for assistance. It is inspiring to witness the expertise within the team.
At 23, you’re one of the youngest in the business, the only female engineer at ETNZ and one of very few women to be involved in the America’s Cup. Does this have any bearing on how you approach your work?
It doesn’t really bother me being one of the few women at ETNZ and I don’t think if affects my work. I think being young and having a willingness to learn has been an advantage. It has allowed me to work in many different areas, which has enabled me to see what I’m most interested in, to work with different people and have variety in my job.
Do you see yourself as a role model for other young women who have ambitions in tech, engineering or other traditionally male-dominated fields?
I didn’t expect to become a role model; however, it seems that I have. It’s amazing how many people have contacted me to ask what I studied, how I became involved with ETNZ or asked for other advice. I think my story shows young people, regardless of gender, that if you aspire to a goal and work hard then you have a chance of achieving your goal.
Sailing photo credit: Hamish Hooper (ETNZ)