‘I’m Māori and I’m a woman’ - that’s what motivates Trudy Caljé-Van Der Klei to strive for success in the field of engineering. By sharing her story, she also hopes to inspire a new generation of wāhine and people of colour.


Trudy’s career began at space camp in America at the age of 15.

She became inspired after reading about a women in a newspaper who attended one and had all these incredible plans for her future.

“It sounds cliché, but as a 15-year-old with no real direction towards one career, I felt inspired.”

One thing led to another and now Trudy is completing an Engineering PhD at the University of Canterbury.

The West Coast-born woman is hoping to better predict how a person’s lungs react to different levels of ventilation.

“There Is a lot of complexity there and not a lot of understanding.

“The issue is that it is very generalised how we ventilate people – it is based off your gender, height, weight etc – and while it works for the majority of the population, it doesn’t work for everyone, and it can lead to ventilator-induced lung injuries.”

Trudy’s goal is, essentially, to help people – both clinicians and patients.

“I want to bridge a gap and make people’s lives even just a little bit easier.”

Trudy is encouraging others to join her and her colleagues in the field of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).

“For young kids to see others who look like them out there being engineers, scientists and researchers can have a huge impact on their outlook towards careers in STEM.

“I know this because I was lucky enough to have a strong wahine in my life to watch as I was growing up – my mum.

“I simply hope to have the opportunity to also inspire the way I have been by many incredible wāhine.

“Don’t be afraid to tackle the hard stuff - if you really want it, you’ll make it happen.”

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