Andrew Chalmers, left, with Mike Reilly, Downer Construction, member of the Civil Contractors New Zealand (CCNZ) Nelson Marlborough Branch.

Scholarship boosts digger dream

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Young expecting father Andrew Chalmers is one step closer to achieving his dream of starting his own contracting business after receiving a scholarship at Tuesday’s NMIT ceremony.

Andrew received the $1,500 Nelson-Marlborough Civil Contractors New Zealand scholarship which is awarded to a young person wanting to get ahead in the industry.

Andrew Chalmers says he’s living the dream of driving large road-making machines and hopes his study will lead to starting his own contracting business.

He says he wanted to drive a digger from the age of four when he saw a roadworks gang working outside his home. He was inspired to follow a career in civil contracting work after working with Fulton Hogan after the Canterbury earthquakes, driving machines to repair roads, bridges and buildings.

Andrew returned from Christchurch to his home town of Nelson to begin studying at NMIT and is now midway through a Diploma in Engineering (Civil).

He says the $1,500 tuition payment has come at a good time, with wife Gina expecting their first child.

“My time out in the field showed me how to build while the study is giving me a lot more of the physics and the reasoning behind the ‘why’ of construction.”

His objective now is to keep operating big road machines, move later into a supervisor role and, eventually be a project manager.

“Hopefully one day I’ll own a few machines in my own contracting business.”

Civil Contractors NZ branch chairman Malcolm Edridge says Andrew is an example of someone who’s prepared to study to get ahead.

“We want young people coming through to know there is a career pathway. It may start with a shovel but it can progress through machinery operation to a successful career. There are lots of opportunities in the main centres for people in and even regional centres are busy. Companies are always looking for experienced, qualified people.

Andrew is one of 120 NMIT students who have won scholarships worth more than $250,000 to help with tuition fees.

Scholarships were presented to Nelson students in programmes ranging from wine making and business to beauty and aquaculture.