2009 Award Winners

Engineering New Zealand is proud to announce the 2009 winners of the Transpower Neighbourhood Engineers Awards. These awards promote engineers and students working together on practical projects in the school and community as well as providing a creative way to enhance the technology curriculum. Every year the Transpower Neighbourhood Engineers Awards gives prizes to the best and most innovative collaboration between students, teachers and volunteer engineers.

2009 Award Winners

2009 Merit Award Winners

Rosmini College, Auckland

Senior student Hussam Gabrial had clients who wanted a system that would keep the ambient temperature of a room stable during both night and day without the need for human interaction. A prototype has been designed to automatically open and close window when a threshold temperature is reached.

Challenges to solve:

  • Window opener must be small and not interfere with curtains/blinds
  • Provide a manual override feature
  • Device must open and close the window automatically as temperatures change
  • Affordable -  between $100.00-$200.00 total cost
  • Must be low maintenance and quiet
  • Reliable power source

Client’s comment:
Happy to see that the device was compatible with some sort of window security. Impressed with the project living up to expectation and surprised at the smooth operation of the unit.

Engineer’s comment:
Hussam demonstrated an impressive ability to interact with others several years his senior. His ability to work alongside his teacher, the electrical engineer and myself (mechanical engineer) showed that he will be a good team member in the future. Hassam’s creativity and enthusiasm were contagious and I found the fortnightly meetings very interesting.  Luke Fowler

Teacher’s comment:
Hussam is now convinced that engineering is the pathway for him. He has really enjoyed working on this project and his confidence has grown. Hussam has been a role model to other students, who have shown interest in his work.  Alexander Breig

Papatoetoe Central

Papatoetoe Central students put their creative energies into designing a station for the school fitness trail. The project team consisted of Year 4 and 5 students, who were guided by Dhirendra Singh, a senior structural engineer at Beca Infrastructure Limited. Students contributed ideas but also did the practical work, from measuring and surveying the potential site, to identifying budgets, property and legal requirements.

Challenges to solve:

  • Time management
  • Accurate measurement
  • Accurate recording

Students developed skills in:

  • Teamwork
  • Researching
  • Contacting experts
  • Arranging meetings with stakeholders

Teachers’ comment:
‘Technology is one the most satisfying curriculum areas for us as teachers, say Lena Erakovich and Peter Robinson who led the fitness trail team, ‘it combines all the things that make learning meaningful, it deals with practical needs so it makes immediate sense’.

Engineer’s comment:
 ‘From a personal viewpoint, the sessions were rewarding in being able to share the world of engineering with the engineers of tomorrow. And in addition, this project has helped my time management and communication skills with a very unique set of clients!’ Dhirendra Singh

Otatara School

Otatara School decided they needed to improve the water supply in the school, Water tests from environment Southland had recommended students not drink the water, and on top of this, students were sick of their balls rolling down the drain. The project group, from Years 4, 5 and 6, worked with local civil engineer Justin Reid.  Meeting once a week they discussed options and worked through details with suppliers and school caretakers.

Challenges to solve:

  • How to stop balls getting stuck on the roof
  • How to ensure clean drinking water

Students developed skills in:

  • Product selection (leaf slides, leaf guards and gutter guards)
  • Letter writing
  • Power point presentation
  • Time management
  • Budgeting
  • Identifying critical tasks and prioritising
  • Scientific testing and monitoring
  • Understanding basic principles of engineering practice

Water tests after the installation show a significant improvement in the water quality.

Teacher’s comment:
 ‘Whilst designing and implementing the final product the children have been exposed to new vocabulary, different ideas and production techniques. They have learnt a great deal about the practical, the planning and the process of engineering, they’ll be able to take the opportunities they have had throughout this project with them into the future’. Sharon Livingstone

Engineer’s comment:
‘It has been a tremendous experience being involved with the children, teachers, caretakers and parents of the school. The children grew to understand the scientific principle of developing an idea then testing and monitoring it to decide on the best solution’. Justin Reid

Papatoetoe High School

Year 13 students at Papatoetoe High School, Tajinder Basra, Issa Yaquonan, Ansil Chand and Nabeel Dada were faced with the task of constructing an electronic sign to keep the community informed of school events. The boys worked with Nissim Cohen at Polycomp signs in Mt Wellington to produce the board. The determined team even managed to negotiate a cost-price purchase.

Following the completion and erection of the sign board, at the school’s Tui Road front gate the students have produced an operation manual for the sign.

Challenges to solve:

  • How to make an electronic message board
  • Where to put it
  • What messages should be displayed

Students developed skills in:

  • Research
  • Interviewing
  • Time management
  • Safety
  • Accuracy of measurement and recording
  • Budgeting

Mentor’s comment:
 ‘The students showed an avid interest and were very focused on the task. They worked out the specifications, and helped to build the sign’. Mr Cohen

Teacher’s comment:
 ‘The boys have worked tirelessly through a challenging process that involved council consent, physical construction of the sign and support structure, research of existing school signage, ditch digging, software training and implementation among other things’. Associate Principal Vaughan Coulliault.

Rosehill Special School

Students at Rosehill Special School felt that their playground area was tired and boring and wanted to redesign it and make it a 'bright and useful area' for teenagers. Surveys were sent out to parents and teachers and classes were asked to brainstorm ideas. One class made posters to show their ideas, and the suggestions included a mural, a barbeque area and a mosaic table-top. Thanks to the students, teachers and parents involved in a working bee, the Rosehill Revival is nearly complete!

Challenges to solve:

  • Ensuring student involvement in decision making
  • Budget constraints
  • Surveys
  • Research

Engineer’s comment:
‘I used to be a swimming teacher and worked with some special needs children. I really enjoyed it and thought that this would be a great opportunity for me to do something more out in the community. The fact that the project was for a special school was a bonus, and after visiting the school and seeing the area we had to work with I wanted to do it even more'. Annaliese Sabrowski, Manukau City Council

Teacher’s comment:
‘It has been exciting and rewarding to see the plans come to fruition, and the enjoyment that the students get out to their improved, revived playground! I hope that this will inspire more projects to happen not only at our school but in neighbouring schools as well. The bonds that have been formed between staff, students and parents are priceless.’ Rachel Sharp

Fairhaven School

Fairhaven School in Napier has been awarded the merit prize in the Transpower Neighbourhood Engineers awards special schools category for their Pathways project. Students from Fairhaven have been using an ‘outdoor classroom’ on nearby Valhalla Farm to relax and learn about the natural environment. The use of the area, named Te Manu Korero for the birdsong, was generously offered to the school by Farmer Alec Olsen and has been a huge hit with students. Students in the senior syndicate identified that wheel chair access to the pocket of bush, as well as the lack of toilets for the disabled, were a problem. The students, teachers and farm owner teamed up with Hastings District Council civil engineer David McBryde to look at ways of addressing these issues.

Challenges to solve:

  • Track must be robust enough to cope with cattle
  • Track design must enable students to go more often into the bush setting
  • Wheelchair friendly track
  • Maintain existing watercourses and native trees

Students developed skills in:

  • Measuring the slope wheel chairs can cope with
  • Testing/evaluating wheel chair friendly path materials
  • Pruning

Engineer’s Comment:
‘The project was broken down into units that enabled contributions to be made from students with a wide range of abilities and involved participation by their families.’ David McBryde.

Hukanui School

Hukanui School has received a merit award in the Transpower Neighbourhood Engineers awards for their efforts in developing an environmentally friendly building technique. Students at Hukanui School, in Hamilton, worked with Engineer Jodi Earwaker, a civil and environmental engineer of Engineering and Environmental Consultants Tonkin and Taylor to develop rammed earth bricks for the school’s ‘living room’ eco-classroom.

Hukanui is the first school in New Zealand to have an ecobuild project designed and run by students. The process began in 2005. Last year a panel of teachers and students were selected to represent Hukanui School and invited Jodi to join the project. The project involves students in Years 5 and 6, and over 150 students have been involved so far.’

Challenges to solve:

  • How to test brick strength
  • Importance of communication with stakeholders
  • Find out about ecological sustainability and integrity

Students developed skills in:

  • Health and safety
  • Waste management
  • Relating to others
  • Developing a brief
  • Soil testing methods
  • Working with a wide range of professionals
  • Researching earth buildings
  • Reading design drawings

Teacher’s comment:
 ‘Jodi imparted job knowledge, expertise, a passion for the environments and just as importantly an understanding that students can explore understand and make decisions about real life issues.’ Michelle White.

Engineer’s Comment:
‘The passion these students have for their project is contagious. They’re not only teaching themselves the value of sustainability, they’re teaching the teacher, architects, engineers and builders who are working alongside them.’ Jodi Earwaker

Myross Bush School

Students from Myross Bush School have earned themselves a merit award and $500 in the Transpower Neighbourhood Engineers Awards.

In 2007 a 7th classroom was installed at the school leaving a gravelly grass area that students wanted to improve. Each class brainstormed ideas for improvements, considering function, durability and safety. The children investigated other local areas at schools, parks and kindergartens for idea. Russell Pearson, an engineer from the Invercargill City Council joined the school working group and led the students through the design process.

While many changes have been implemented, Myross Bush School continue to fundraise to complete the lunch and learning area.
Challenges to solve:

  • Selecting the best plans
  • Budgets
  • Patience

Students developed skills in:

  • Problem solving
  • Observation
  • Communication
  • Statistics
  • Persuasive writing
  • 3D drawing

Engineer’s Comment:
 ‘This project highlighted the wonderful thought patterns children have and how unconstrained they are in developing and expressing their thoughts, the children presented wonderful and original thinking.’ Mr Pearson.

Teacher’s comment:
‘This has been a valuable real-life exercise for the children to be involved in. It gave every child an opportunity to investigate and design landscape ideas for the lunch and learning area.’ Barbara Caughey.

Ilminster Intermediate,

Eleven year old Rose Richardson of Illminster Intermediate has won a merit award in the Transpower Neighbourhood Engineers Awards.
Rose received a merit award for her project ‘making mum’s job easier’. Rose lives on a sheep and deer farm, her mother gets up at 5.30am each morning and carries two buckets weighing almost 10kgs up a hill, through many gates, to feed the deer.  ‘As you can imagine that is a really painful job’ says Rose. ‘When she gets back her neck, shoulders and lower back really ache’.

With the help of Helen Churton, a civil engineer from Gisborne District Council, Rose analysed the route information and found the optimum angle for the handle (so the full buckets would not spill), and the best position for the wheels, she also realised she’d need to plane the bottom corner of the cart off, so it would not rub the ground during the steepest section of the climb. Rose added brakes to the design, so the cart would not roll away as her mother opened the paddock gates.

Challenges to solve:

  • Design options
  • Timelines
  • Forces

Rose developed skills in: 

  • Defining the problem
  • Accurate measurement
  • Geometry
  • Physics
  • Construction materials

Teacher’s comment:
‘Rose has had to develop a wide range of mathematical skills, be willing to think past her first solution, research materials and justify her final design, showing clear links to the design process. Juliet Randle

Engineer’s Comment:
‘She has a real commitment to the idea of helping her mother and I believe that she will very likely get togetherwith her grandfather (who helped build the model) and construct the cart!’ Helen Churton

Taikura Steiner School

Johannes Boonen, 18, of Taikura Rudolf Steiner School has received a merit award in the annual Transpower Neighbourhood Engineers Awards.

Johannes had been working one day a week with Stead Construction through the Gateway programme and wanted to put some of the practical skills he was learning to use. ‘While talking to a few teachers over the holidays an idea emerged of building a shaded roof structure for the new outdoor kitchen at school.’

Johannes was mentored by Guy Lethbridge, a director of Strata Group Consulting Engineers. The pair worked together to design a pergola frame for the outdoor cooking area.  Working with Guy Johannes prepared a number of concepts, graphically and through modelling, assessed construction materials, prepared budgets and sought donations. Johannes built the sunshade himself with help from his family, particularly his father, and from Geoff Hugget of Stead Construction.

Challenges to solve:

  • Learning AutoCad and Excel spreadsheets
  • Issues about outdoor ovens
  • Source materials
  • Budget constraints

Student developed skills in:

  • Consultation
  • Design
  • Problem solving
  • Safety
  • Cost effectiveness
  • Aesthetics

Teacher’s comment:
There has been a positive impact for the school. The area used for school lessons as well as for community occasions such as festival, now has protections from the sun. Children for the lower school have continued landscaping the area.’ Meren Norton

Client’s Comment:
‘I was most impressed with Johannes’ approach to this task. He consulted all interested parties, listened to our concerns and looked for solutions to meet our requirements. It is not easy for a student to interact with school staff at this level and it was a pleasure to see Johannes grow in confidence and professionalism throughout the process.’ Jocelyn MacKinnon

Engineer’s Comment:
‘I would imagine Johannes will easily take to a career in the construction in whatever from that may take. I have enjoyed working with Johannes and wish him all the best for the future.’ Guy Lethbridge Johannes plans to complete a building apprenticeship and study engineering.