Dream. Believe. Achieve. These words are the inspirational legacy of the late Formula One driver and Seddon Tech alumnus Bruce McLaren, which were shared by his sister Jan, with over 50 of AUT’s longest-standing alumni at the 2019 Seddon Memorial Technical College event.
The annual event celebrates the contribution of Seddon (which AUT was known as from 1913-1963) to the university’s DNA. This year the event was held in the state-of-the-art WZ building at the City Campus, and keynote speaker Jan McLaren shared insight and personal stories about her brother’s time at Seddon.
After studying mechanical engineering at Seddon in the 1950s, Bruce went on to motor racing and won a Grand Prix at the age of 22. At the time Bruce became the youngest ever Formula One winner – a Guinness World Record that stood for over 40 years.
“The fact that Bruce could build a car, drive it and win a major competition all under his own name was a remarkable feat. Only two drivers in the world have done it,” says Jan.
By 1968 Bruce had won four Grand Prix’s and started his own business, which has now morphed into the global F1 and supercar brand McLaren.
“He out engineered, out developed and out skilled the competition – that’s what sets New Zealand talent apart on the world stage.”
Jan also studied at Seddon and after starting her career in the credit office at the department store Rendells in the 1960s, moved into the banking sector and became one of the first female bank managers in New Zealand.
“I completed a business course and achieved honours for book-keeping, which set up my career perfectly.”
The event concluded with Associate Professor Jairo Gutierrez leading a tour around WZ, showcasing key design features and special labs in operation. This was a highlight for our Seddon alumni as they were able to reflect on the technical school of their time and see how far industry has come.
Alumni who attended said they look forward to coming to the reunion to see the changes and developments each year. Although, alumnus Paul Modrich who attended Seddon in the 1950s, says some things remain unchanged.
“The ambience, the way the people are is a wonderful reminder of our time here.”