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Student profile: Melissa Bather, Creative Technologist and Information Analyst

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9 November 2021

Unleash Space, the University of Auckland’s innovation hub featuring a state-of-the-art maker space, has been the perfect place for student Melissa Bather to let her creative side run free while studying towards a Bachelor of Science and then a Postgraduate Diploma in Statistics. 

Run by the University of Auckland Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Unleash Space offers a wide range of free workshops, equipment, and resources to help students and staff of all faculties unleash their creative potential. Melissa says, “As much as I enjoy what I study, I’m naturally inclined to more creative endeavours. I’ve been drawing and making things since I was very young, so when I saw the kinds of things you could make at Unleash Space, I knew it was something I wanted to be involved in.”

Melissa has brought a number of exciting projects to life in the maker space from costumes for Halloween and dress-up parties to novelty earrings for all occasions. She says, “My favourite project was a maths version of snakes and ladders to help students learn to calculate gradients using different scaled axes, which I’m now working on selling to high schools.”

In 2019, Melissa joined the Unleash Space team as a student Creative Technologist (CT) dedicated to helping other students and staff make the most of the equipment in the maker space in addition to running practical workshops and equipment training. She says, “I really enjoyed running the Rotary Science Workshops a few times. It was inspiring to see how creative and intelligent young high school students can be. I also enjoyed running some Matariki Lantern Making Workshops earlier this year. It drove me to improve my Te Reo Māori pronunciation and learn about why we celebrate Matariki. We had a lot of people attend who had never been inside the maker space before, and I loved seeing how excited they got about all the potential projects they could make using the different machines we have.”

Her experiences as a CT has helped Melissa develop a number of skills that have gone on to be valuable in other aspects of her life. She says, “Before I became a CT, I was not very good at public speaking and dreaded speaking to groups of people if I didn’t have a scripted and rehearsed speech. Now, I feel very comfortable speaking to groups of any size completely off the cuff, a skill that I’ve found super helpful for job interviews. Being a CT also forces you to get good at problem-solving. I think it goes without saying that this is a useful skill to have in all areas of life.”

Melissa is currently working as an Information Analyst at the Ministry of Health New Zealand. She uses R (her favourite programming language) and web package Shiny to build web apps that present interactive health statistics and information for the public to explore. She also writes scripts for data checking and recently built an app to track external meetings within the Ministry.

“I’ve really enjoyed learning how to use the R packages Shiny and dplyr and have found these super useful for my own personal projects. It’s also been interesting to see how health statistics are collated, cleaned, and analysed behind the scenes. A lot of work goes into it all that the public are not aware of. Next year, I’ll be working on an immunisations app because, for obvious reasons, people are now quite interested in immunisation statistics. I’m definitely looking forward to that.”

Melissa’s advice for students who may be curious about making and creating at Unleash Space is to “start by taking a look inside, then give everything a go! Too many students don’t take advantage of the best place on campus. Everyone there is really nice and welcoming, and even if you are a complete beginner like I was, it’s not hard to learn. If you’re ‘too busy’, just set aside an hour a week to work on a fun personal project – the best way to spend a study break is to work on something creative.”

Melissa will be returning to the University of Auckland next year to study a Master of Science in Statistics, with the ultimate goal of becoming a data scientist. She says, “I never want to lose my creative side though, so you can count on me being back inside the maker space – I have too many project ideas to say goodbye just yet.”

Unleash Space is open to students and staff of all faculties at the University of Auckland. Gain free access to the maker space by completing online orientation.

University of Auckland wins international award for entrepreneurship education
University of Auckland wins international award for entrepreneurship education

social media

9 November 2021

Unleash Space, the University of Auckland’s innovation hub featuring a state-of-the-art maker space, has been the perfect place for student Melissa Bather to let her creative side run free while studying towards a Bachelor of Science and then a Postgraduate Diploma in Statistics. 

Run by the University of Auckland Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Unleash Space offers a wide range of free workshops, equipment, and resources to help students and staff of all faculties unleash their creative potential. Melissa says, “As much as I enjoy what I study, I’m naturally inclined to more creative endeavours. I’ve been drawing and making things since I was very young, so when I saw the kinds of things you could make at Unleash Space, I knew it was something I wanted to be involved in.”

Melissa has brought a number of exciting projects to life in the maker space from costumes for Halloween and dress-up parties to novelty earrings for all occasions. She says, “My favourite project was a maths version of snakes and ladders to help students learn to calculate gradients using different scaled axes, which I’m now working on selling to high schools.”

In 2019, Melissa joined the Unleash Space team as a student Creative Technologist (CT) dedicated to helping other students and staff make the most of the equipment in the maker space in addition to running practical workshops and equipment training. She says, “I really enjoyed running the Rotary Science Workshops a few times. It was inspiring to see how creative and intelligent young high school students can be. I also enjoyed running some Matariki Lantern Making Workshops earlier this year. It drove me to improve my Te Reo Māori pronunciation and learn about why we celebrate Matariki. We had a lot of people attend who had never been inside the maker space before, and I loved seeing how excited they got about all the potential projects they could make using the different machines we have.”

Her experiences as a CT has helped Melissa develop a number of skills that have gone on to be valuable in other aspects of her life. She says, “Before I became a CT, I was not very good at public speaking and dreaded speaking to groups of people if I didn’t have a scripted and rehearsed speech. Now, I feel very comfortable speaking to groups of any size completely off the cuff, a skill that I’ve found super helpful for job interviews. Being a CT also forces you to get good at problem-solving. I think it goes without saying that this is a useful skill to have in all areas of life.”

Melissa is currently working as an Information Analyst at the Ministry of Health New Zealand. She uses R (her favourite programming language) and web package Shiny to build web apps that present interactive health statistics and information for the public to explore. She also writes scripts for data checking and recently built an app to track external meetings within the Ministry.

“I’ve really enjoyed learning how to use the R packages Shiny and dplyr and have found these super useful for my own personal projects. It’s also been interesting to see how health statistics are collated, cleaned, and analysed behind the scenes. A lot of work goes into it all that the public are not aware of. Next year, I’ll be working on an immunisations app because, for obvious reasons, people are now quite interested in immunisation statistics. I’m definitely looking forward to that.”

Melissa’s advice for students who may be curious about making and creating at Unleash Space is to “start by taking a look inside, then give everything a go! Too many students don’t take advantage of the best place on campus. Everyone there is really nice and welcoming, and even if you are a complete beginner like I was, it’s not hard to learn. If you’re ‘too busy’, just set aside an hour a week to work on a fun personal project – the best way to spend a study break is to work on something creative.”

Melissa will be returning to the University of Auckland next year to study a Master of Science in Statistics, with the ultimate goal of becoming a data scientist. She says, “I never want to lose my creative side though, so you can count on me being back inside the maker space – I have too many project ideas to say goodbye just yet.”

Unleash Space is open to students and staff of all faculties at the University of Auckland. Gain free access to the maker space by completing online orientation.


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