Past Winners

The Neighbourhood Engineers Awards is an annual competition started in 2001. It aims to create a greater awareness of the engineering profession and meet the objectives of Technology in the New Zealand Curriculum. Teachers, students and engineers work together to meet an identified need, or opportunity in their school or local community.

2015 Winners

Junior Winner
Churchill Park School, Auckland

Senior Winner
Sancta Maria College, Auckland

Junior Merit
Cashmere Primary School, Christchurch
Hobsonville Primary School, Auckland
Kokatahi-Kowhitirangi School, Hokitika
Matata School, Whakatane
Newbury School (2 projects), Palmerston North
Otumoetai Intermediate School, Tauranga
Rosehill Intermediate School, Auckland
St Brigid's School, Dunedin

Senior Merit
Avonside Girls High School, Christchurch
Glendowie College, Auckland
Karamu High School, Hastings
Mission Heights Junior College (3 projects), Auckland
Sancta Maria College, Auckland

JUNIOR WINNER – Churchill Park School, Auckland

‘Leave a Legacy’ is an outdoor classroom built in memory of a past Churchill Park School pupil. Students led every aspect of the project from documentation, design and planning to tracking their journey and communicating with all their stakeholders.

The students had to maintain a budget and ensure their outcome: fitted the physical attributes as given in their brief; was environmentally friendly; had an indoor/outdoor flow making it suitable for use all year; and was large enough to fit at least one full class. They looked to at recycling rainwater, however decided that a soft roof approach was more beneficial at this stage. They also had to make sure their structure was close to the school’s wetlands, for environmental learning. 

Students learnt how to plan a project for best practice: looking at constraints; researching other outdoor spaces, materials, shade/shelter areas; questioning their stakeholders and considering themes and ideas. Based on feedback from their stakeholder they created a competition for other students in the school to draw their own designs, making this a very collaborative project. The group has identified the next steps needed to continue the development of their outdoor classroom.

Teacher Comment – Vicki Smith
“The students’ engagement, ownership and authentic learning have been invaluable,” says Vicki. “This project has engineering at its heart, but it has been so much more. Not only have the students had the engineering opportunities, they had had real challenges, real money and real successes. Their sense of achievement is real.”

Engineer Comment – Lucian Doig, Fulton Hogan
“The experience has been highly rewarding for my own personal development and has made me think about my profession in a new light. I have been highly impressed by the maturity and focus of the students, they have taken ownership of the project leaving me to offer minimal advice and guidance as required.”

SENIOR WINNER – Sancta Maria College, Auckland

Two students designed and constructed a plant propagation system for their client who wanted something that was easily portable and used environmentally friendly, weather resistant materials. They researched similar items on the market, and considered the school’s social and physical environment to ensure they developed a suitable system.
The students incorporated their stakeholder’s ideas into their own concept for a propagation trolley, creating SketchUp models, working drawings and prototypes before settling on a final design. They critically reviewed each element of their final design to ensure it met their client’s brief, was fit for purpose and used the most suitable materials.

Teacher Comment – Matt Henderson
“My students have had the opportunity to see what it is like to experience actual engineering situations with 'real world' stakeholders. As the students' teacher, it has been a real privilege to guide them through the process and watch them succeed in taking a stakeholder brief through to construction.” He adds that as well as the direct benefit to the students involved, other students observed Zac working with the group “which has provided inspiration for them too.”

Engineer Comment – Zac Mackintosh, Airways New Zealand
“It’s been great being able to give back to my old school, and seeing how far the Technology programme has developed since I was a student. I found the freedom that the students were given to imagine a project and see it through to completion refreshing.”

JUNIOR MERIT – Cashmere Primary School, Christchurch


The students were asked to create something for the Gap Filler Initiative which makes use of vacant sites for community activities. They explored other Gap Filler projects around Christchurch before deciding to create an obstacle course.
The students brainstormed ideas for the course, built scale 1:10 models and created a stop-motion video of a 'stickman' running around the course so they could present their designs for approval to Gap Filler.
After constructing the course the group installed it ready for the school holidays where it was used by a range of visitors in the Christchurch CBD. It is currently on display at the Gap Filler Commons on the corner of Kilmore and Durham St. Gap Filler have asked to keep the obstacle course on site until after the summer holidays.

Teacher Comment – Daniel Gorman
“The students benefited in two key ways, academically and through the role model of their mentors.”

Engineer Comment – Emma Turner and Jacob Couprie, Riley Consultants
“The students were encouraged by their teacher to really think about all aspects of the project themselves, form their own ideas, make their own mistakes and to lead the design and build process. We were really impressed by the initiative of the students and their ability to plan and solve problems throughout the process.”

JUNIOR MERIT – Hobsonville Primary School, Auckland

The group brainstormed ideas for a project and came up with four preferred options: storage box; vegetable patch; running and long jump track; and clock tower. After researching each idea they decided on the clock tower, as students often miss hearing the bell when they’re playing outside.They decided this as it would mean they could always see the time.

The students worked on a variety of desktop tasks (including engineering sketches and earthquake load calculations), interpersonal tasks (including stakeholder surveys, Board of Trustee presentations) and practical activities (including site surveys and building prototype).

Teacher Comment – Brad Hill
“This is such a unique and authentic learning opportunity which provided the platform for such creative and collaborative thinking to take place.”

Engineer Comment – Michael Higham, Beca
“Doing some real engineering calculations, following the actual rule books (NZ Standards) was exciting for the students. They could see how decisions and engineering judgments have to be made in order to carry out a design.”

JUNIOR MERIT – Kokatahi-Kowitirangi School, Hokitika

Students were tasked with creating a kinetic sculpture that would be powered by the rain and show something special about their community. They worked through the project in eight stages – from researching what art is, what is special about their community and developing an understanding of kinetic energy, through to initial design and refinement stages then finally to the construction and installation stage.

During the project the students created 3D sketches and prototypes of their ideas and shared them with their engineers. They designed the sculpture to be installed near an outdoor learning area but the local café have expressed interest in the sculpture and asked for it to be installed in their garden with the water running into their goldfish pond.

Teacher Comment – Megan McLellan
“The visits from Tate and Elena were a fantastic motivator for the students. With the support from them all the ideas the children came up with seemed possible. Thanks to the Transpower Neighbourhood Engineers Awards for the great opportunity – we look forward to participating again!”

Engineer Comment – Tate Bradley, Electronet Services Ltd
“I found being a mentor an extremely invaluable experience which I would recommend to any engineer wishing to pass on their knowledge to the future generation.”

Engineer Comment – Elena De Goldi, Grey District Council
“The great thing about children is that their minds have no barrier for what can or cannot be achieved. They are great problem solvers and inventors; no problem was too big or too small. Watching and helping the children reinvigorated my own passion for working in the engineering profession and I would highly recommend any engineer to get involved in mentoring a project.”

JUNIOR MERIT – Matata Public School, Whakatane


Matata School’s Nature Garden hadn’t been maintained very well – it no longer looked like a koru, the edges of the paths had fallen away and it was generally under loved. This has given the Year 7/8 students a project with a great space and an authentic opportunity for learning and creativity.

The students jumped at the chance to do this project and started with brainstorming ideas and researching what was important to Matata. They spoke to other students in their school to gather their thoughts too, then voted on their top five ideas (kumara pit, whare entrance, trenches, Mt Tarawera design, fence) then split into groups to research each idea. Each group had to summarise their findings, provide costings, and then draw their designs. The class got together with their engineer to create scale drawings and site plans for all of the ideas.

Teacher Comment – Stacey Marr
“The students have not only worked through the technology process, they have also gained an insight into an engineer’s career and had authentic learning in literacy, mathematics, local history and more.”

Engineer Comment – Marnie Fornusek, Bay of Plenty Regional Council
“There were plenty of opportunities during the project to use ‘real life’ maths and science, with scale drawings, metric conversions and an introduction to surveying, auger testing and pot holing. It was great to see the keenness for the hands-on activities and the willingness to help set up equipment.”

JUNIOR MERIT – Newbury School (2 projects), Palmerston North

The students at Newbury School took on two projects this year. They split into a construction group which continued the development of their 2013 Merit Award-winning fitness track, and an electronics team which created a mobile speed limit sign for the school carpark.

Both groups worked through the processes of identifying needs and constraints, brainstorming possible solutions, generating ideas, exploring their possibilities, selecting their approaches, building prototypes and refining the design. In Term 4 each team will implement its design.

Teacher Comment – Caroline Transom
“This has been so worthwhile; my students have knowledge beyond their years, have been involved in real life learning and some have had their eyes opened to the possibility of an engineering career.”

Electronics Group's Engineer Comment – Tim Field, Transpower
“At work we have recently increased our focus on ‘doing clever simply’. Working alongside students reminds me of this value and helps me practise it at work. After visits I would go back to work feeling refreshed with a clear mind, ready to tackle the day’s problems with simple solutions.”

Construction Group's Engineer Comment – Edison Luo, GHD
“Perfect experience from an engineer’s perspective – communicating with the students who know nothing about engineering but are all enthusiastic and eager to learn has been excellent for my professional development. It is also a great opportunity to be embraced by the community. So I can share my engineering knowledge and skill as a structural engineer.”

JUNIOR MERIT – Otumoetai Intermediate School, Tauranga

The class of 33 students identified a problem with water supply to the school’s large edible garden – it needed regular watering over the summer months. The group created a brief to design a rainwater harvesting system to collect and store rainwater for use on the school garden.

Students identified and worked through their constraints, including budget, size, water quantities required for the garden, and overall school requirements. They researched water tanks currently available, worked out a budget, consulted stakeholders, discussed and planned the site, and built models. During the research phase they also had to work out who all their stakeholders were for consultation. Once they had completed their research and collated their ideas they presented them to their engineers for feedback and suggestions.

Teacher Comment – Fran Mortell
“It was really helpful how our engineers developed a relationship with the students and challenged their thinking instead of just giving them the answers. Together we created learning experiences that engaged the students and gave them a big picture of what we were trying to achieve in regards to being more sustainable as a school community.”

Engineer Comment – David Kingham, Fulton Hogan
“What an awesome experience. I have had such a fun time over the last few terms and will continue to brag and bleat about this project! Well done to the whole team – and I am keen as mustard to continue this through so we can have our first summer vege garden running off the grid.”

Engineer Comment – Anita Jackson, RedCo
“Working with the students and their teacher has been of value to me as it has enabled me to learn to communicate effectively with people of other professions with different skill sets and also with the younger generation in a way that they understand. It has allowed me to pass on key skills and knowledge which they may not otherwise be exposed to and it has, most importantly, been rewarding to see the students plan and develop an idea that they are enthusiastic about.”

JUNIOR MERIT – Rosehill Intermediate School, Auckland

The Headdress and Helmet Harmony project developed as a solution for the increasing number of bike riders wearing traditional headwear such as turbans. Year 8 student Roshan, wanted to provide a cheap and safe alternative helmet for those students. He aimed to reduce their risk of injury in an accident; give added peace of mind to students, parents and teachers; and make big companies start thinking about producing helmets solutions that are more versatile and culturally responsive.
Roshan had to do a lot of research into safety regulations, head injury, and the helmet types that are already on the market before designing and prototyping his own version.

Teacher Comment – Jo Horgan
“Roshan is a clever and articulate student and working with Ben further stimulated and challenged him. I believe he has planted the seeds for Roshan to think about bringing his abilities in Maths and Science together into a career in engineering.”

Engineer Comment – Ben Turner, Fonterra Co-Operative Group
“My role was to provide Roshan with guidance and challenge his thinking and rationale while drawing the links between engineering theory and real world prototypes. He displayed a real passion and interest in the project as well as the wider field of engineering.”

JUNIOR MERIT – St Brigid's School, Dunedin

Students based their project around a proposal to close the local parish church next to the school and build a smaller chapel on the school grounds. The planned chapel needed to be environmentally friendly and sustainable.
The students worked with their engineer and an Enviroschools representative to investigate materials which would be suitable for an ecological building and also adhere to building standards. Their investigation included considering what materials their classroom was built from and making ‘pro and con’ lists for suitable building materials. The class worked in teams to collate their ideas and draw scale 1:100 drawings, and then presented them to the Board of Trustees.

Teacher Comment – Deborah Whitty
“Our class, as with any other, has a huge mix of abilities. I have children who are identified as gifted and I have a larger group for whom literacy is a challenge which could be a barrier to their learning – if we let it. But I could see in this project a chance for these children to excel as they have great thinking and problem-solving brains and love practical hands-on tasks.”

Engineer Comment – David Wood, Opus
“The opportunity to work with the class this year has been a lot of fun and definitely worthwhile. For me personally, public speaking was never one of my fondest memories of school. This programme is a great way for me to work on becoming a bit more comfortable in front of an audience while speaking.”

SENIOR MERIT – Avonside Girls' High School, Christchurch

This group worked on a project for the Gap Filler initiative which makes use of vacant Christchurch sites for community activities. They were asked to design a piano shelter so that visitors to the site could play the piano in any weather, and were required to make it using recycled materials.
The girls learnt key skills in research; client interaction (presentation and feedback); architectural design; structural engineering concepts and principles; working with local council; technical drawings and teamwork. While learning these skills the girls created a project that's part of rebuilding post-earthquake Christchurch.

Teacher Comment – Sheena Scott
“Overall this project gave the students a fantastic opportunity to carry out work for the community and an authentic learning experience. The students have gained knowledge about the design process that is required to work towards a final outcome.”

Engineer Comment – Audsley Jones, University of Canterbury
“It was a pleasure to be part of this project, the class was enthusiastic, welcoming and open to brainstorming, questioning and participating.”

SENIOR MERIT – Glendowie College, Auckland

The students decided upon an electronic solution to the numerous problems the school was having with the school’s paper-based attendance system for Y13s. For example it took an average 12 minutes for a student to find their entry in the book and sign out, and there were no security measures preventing students signing each other in and out.
The group developed an automated attendance system set up with student ID cards and a USB barcode scanner and camera, with everything uploading directly to Google drive.
The students made 3 prototypes for three areas of their system: a keyboard which had its keys 3D printed and then configured by usingRaspberryPi; a barcode scanner which includes a 3D-printed housing; and a camera for additional security, which is also incorporated in a 3D-printed housing and connects to the RaspberryPi and is controlled via code. The students needed to learn how to create 3D printed housings and code in python. They needed to use multi-threading and thread queues so that multiple students could log attendance at the same time.

Teacher Comment – Jeelie Christopher
“I am proud to be associated with such an ambitious group of vibrant students who commit their own time passionately for the benefit of their juniors and the school community.”

Engineer Comment – Julian Nye, Auckland Transport
“When I saw what the students were proposing I jumped at the opportunity to work with them. The project they undertook was both ambitious and extremely technical beyond their years.”

SENIOR MERIT – Karamu High School, Hastings

Angus's interest in renewable energy and a family friend who wanted to replace a petrol-powered pump on his lifestyle block sparked the opportunity to work on a wind turbine project.
With such a big project on his hands Angus realized early on he would need to break the project into small sections. He created a Gantt chart to ensure he kept to a timetable with his part of the work. Angus visited RCR Energy where he saw first-hand how people work together to bring a project to life.
Angus worked through each stage from concept to research, mockups, testing to development and construction. His prototype was still in the construction phase when he submitted the project, but only a week or so away from being tested outside.

Teacher Comment – Dale Prebble
“While creating the project, students from other classes were constantly questioning Angus on what he was creating. He made sure in these situations that he mentioned the fact that he had guidance from engineers. I feel that this has inspired other students to work towards an Engineering type project.”

Engineer Comment – Nathan Marks, Aaron Harry and Nidal Eltayeb, RCR Energy
“This was good for us because we got to extend our knowledge. It also added value to our organisation and profession because we are giving a student an experience of the engineering world. This has had a knock-on effect too when Angus spoke to others about his experience.”

SENIOR MERIT – Mission Heights Junior College (3 projects), Auckland

The Lockdown project was initiated because while the school has an alarm the school doesn’t have a system to alert students (including Kelston Deaf Education College students) electronically when it needs to perform a lockdown in an emergency scenario such as an intruder or person-of-interest to police roaming in the region. The proposed solution would alert students and staff, to keep calm and advise them to lock themselves inside their classrooms, via an alert message sent to every PC and projectors installed on the school network.

The students identified seven possible solutions and thoroughly researched and analysed each one. As well as looking at related items on the market, they spoke to the Project Alert team, who won the 2013 Transpower Neighbourhood Engineers Awards. They decided to create a computer-based alert system, which would send a message to computers at the school. The students successfully tested their prototype and demonstrated receiving of alert message to computers on network sent with a simple push of an emergency button.

A second project, Feel the Heat was developed to reduce the serious issue of children and animals left alone in cars on hot days by alerting them of rising temperature. Their objective was to create a device that detects motion in a car, measures the temperature and if it’s too hot sends a message via a phone app. The students tested their heat sensor device with a hair dryer, with the first notification coming through the app at approximately 29 degrees. The group has completed all their objectives and now in the final stages of fixing up their final prototype.

Lockdown and Feel the Heat Teacher Comment – Ian Morrison
“This is the first time I have been involved in a project of this nature and I have been incredibly impressed by the way it has brought out important life skills and qualities in the participants. The students worked collaboratively which is an increasingly important characteristic of successful people.”

Lockdown and Feel the Heat Engineer Comment – Mikesh Patel, Fisher & Paykel Appliances
“I have always believed that it is the mind-set of an individual that makes him/her an engineer rather than a degree and these students have shown exactly that. It is great to see these students adapting to thinking outside the box at such an early age and accepting this level of challenge which exposes them to what lies ahead of them in the future. Defining a problem and exploring a set of solutions is what is in the nutshell of engineering and innovation and the sooner they start to put this in practice, the better it is for their future.”

The third project was called Walking Danger. The team identified a need for their project based on too many accidents occuringat pedestrian crossings. They wanted to build a device that alerts oncoming cars, both visually and audibly, that there is someone at the crossing. The students evaluated their ideas and researched the types of controls already at crossings. They also interviewed staff at Auckland Transport for their views on the project. They came away with more to think about when it was suggested they might need to consider the stopping times of cars at different speeds.
The students developed a prototype which has an infrared motion sensor, a buzzer for sound and LED lights for both visual and auidble notifications.

Walking Danger Teacher Comment – Rebecca McGrath
“A lesson for us as adults is that we should never limit students’ learning. None of us knew when this project started if the students would succeed in making a device that would alert oncoming cars, both audibly and visibly, of pedestrians crossing the road.”

Walking Danger Engineer Comment – Brett Willis, Fisher & Paykel Appliances
“I thoroughly enjoyed working with this team, and I am excited at the very real potential that they have to make a difference and save lives at pedestrian crossings.”

SENIOR MERIT – Sancta Maria College, Auckland

A lack of shade on the grounds of Sancta Maria College prompted students to design a portable shelter which could be used by supporters, teams or referees at school sports games.
The shelter had to fit at least four people, and students also had to consider: the weather conditions it would need to withstand; design elements that would allow them to include solar powered charging stations; storage for students’ gear; and how to make the shelter light enough to be portable while also sturdy.

Teacher Comment – Matt Henderson
“As the teacher I have been able to provide a programme that allows the students to develop their interpersonal skills and knowledge base through their interactions with Zac and their stakeholders. This has increased their level of engagement and enabled them to benefit from a deeper level of understanding.”

Engineer Comment – Zac Mackintosh, Airways New Zealand
“I am thrilled that the boys have shared their project stories with younger students as it has now inspired them to take Technology, which can lead them into an engineering career, in following years.”