2010 Award Winners

Engineering New Zealand is proud to announce the 2010 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.

2010 Award Winners

2010 Merit Award Winners

Award Winners

Lindisfarne College, Hastings

Year 12 student Thomas Dalton had Neil Daykin, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council design engineer as his client. Thomas’s task was to provide a new design for a gate along Hawke’s Bay’s rural Rotary Pathways. His design is being considered by Hawke’s Bay Regional Council for development.
Challenges to solve:

  • Design a working model of a gate/access structure allowing cyclists, walkers, runners, wheelchairs and pushchairs
  • While stopping livestock to ensure the stop bank is protected, design a gate that works without power and stops motorised vehicles such as quad and motorbikes

Client’s comment:
“Thomas's innovative yet relatively simple design has been selected as the winning entry as part of this competition and is likely to be implemented as a working prototype somewhere within our existing cycleway network, with some possible minor modifications. Thomas's entry satisfied the key criteria to the greatest degree and displayed very good thought processes and attention to detail, for example the hinge mechanism, cost effectiveness and an ability to use the gate while still mounted on your bike. The current design also allows for our possible modifications to be accommodated so provides flexibility for this. We are very pleased to have an option that may assist us with our existing gates.” Neil Daykin

Engineer’s Comment:
“I was pleasantly surprised at the innovative fresh ideas that he was coming up with and decided early on that I was going to assist Thomas with the process of developing his ideas rather than directly critiquing them. ....As the project developed my role changed to be more of a technical mentor, giving Thomas pointers on what we call Front End Engineering Design. This involved him taking his concept to another level of detail by creating a specification and in his case a model.” Andy Gunson

Teacher’s Comment:
“The solution Thomas was able to come up with has been hugely rewarding for me as a teacher. I have seen a student produce something that I would not have expected him to do at the start of the year. Professionally it was refreshing to be shown how an engineer would approach design tasks and my teaching will benefit from this. I recognise that this task has challenged Thomas in every way during the year and he must be commended for not giving up at any stage.” Darren Brown

St Mary’s Catholic School, Rotorua

The students from ‘Team Beta’ processed issues around their school environment using a Decision Making Matrix to decide the most beneficial project to undertake. Improving the Junior Playground was decided on as the children had observed that many accidents had had taken place. Learning to manage meeting notes, visiting other playgrounds, and working with a variety of stakeholders enabled a well researched proposal to be taken to the Parent Teacher Association.

Challenges to solve:

  • Making wise choices of project
  • Sourcing materials
  • Budget constraints
  • Playground safety
  • Using a Decision Making Matrix

Children developed skills in:

  • Using an ‘Active Expression’ to send ‘Plus Minus and Interesting’s on to vote
  • Good presentation skills
  • Budgeting
  • Inflation equation to work out price difference in 20 years
  • Team work and co-operation
  • Identifying problems
  • Understanding project plans
  • Communicating with a variety of stakeholders
  • Phone skills
  • Public speaking

Engineer’s Comment:
“I have one word for the team...Outstanding! What really impressed me about Team Beta is their enthusiasm, commitment and dedication. One thing that stands out for Beta is teamwork. They wouldn’t have completed such a meticulous result if it weren’t for their determination to achieve their goal. They knew what they wanted/needed and they weren’t afraid to ask for guidance and help (not just from their teacher and myself but also from other professionals). The team’s strongest asset is before they finalised their solution, they considered vital issues and valued everyone’s views (not just their own). My greatest reward is witnessing how this project awakened their passion and thirsts for knowledge (especially in Science and Technology). It even resulted in a few students who want to be future Engineers!” Rose So-Beer

Teacher’s Comment:
“I would like to commend Engineering New Zealand for their foresight in providing us with an engineer to work with students at our school. It has provided the engineer and me with an insight into each other’s jobs – more importantly has exposed the students to engineering as a career option they might be interested in.” Anne Cato

Torbay Primary, Auckland

The children and the wider community do not have an outdoor area to stage performances to a seated audience, or have a quiet space in the outdoor environment for reading.

Challenges to solve:

  • Understanding contours of the land
  • Drainage issues
  • Sun, shade and audio effects
  • Audience requirements
  • Seating
  • Multi-functional space
  • Safe storage of equipment
  • Health and safety

Students developed skills in:

  • Understanding safety requirements
  • The design process and language
  • Presentation skills - both oral and written
  • Making an accurate model
  • Understanding the usage of treated wood
  • Measurement

Engineer’s Comment:
“I really enjoyed my second Transpower Neighbourhood Engineers Awards project, this time with Torbay school. I was impressed that the students in this group were not fixated on one concept for the project. It started with three separate project ideas. ...The design process was fluid and managed to incorporate many different ideas from the students. From my perspective, I learned a few things about group work which will help my professional career.” Andrew Congalton

Teacher’s Comment:
“The opportunity to work on this project and with the engineer has been both stimulating and challenging. With my limited knowledge in this area it provided numerous opportunities for challenging thinking skills, numeracy and literacy skills and provided a platform for an authentic inquiry following the New Zealand Curriculum.” Glenys Harwood and Fiona Gray

Glenfield Primary, Auckland

After discussion with staff and students, Mrs Blundell and seven students identified the greatest need of the school. The concerns focused on issues to do with ensuring the swimming pool complied with the 2008 NZ Standards for Pool Design. With the help of Mike a geotechnical engineer, the students took soil tests by the filter room and found the soil was fairly unstable.

Challenges to solve:

  • Safe management of chlorine dispensing
  • Understanding chlorine dangers
  • Filter room needs replacing
  • Cracks in the block walls around the pool
  • Costing
  • Understanding geotechnical equipment

Children developed skills in:

  • Understanding the health hazards and handling of chlorine
  • Understanding how that relates to the Caretaker’s safety
  • Understanding what a geo-technical engineer does
  • Conducting soil tests
  • Problem solving
  • Follow a stringent timeline
  • Sharing tasks
  • Careful documentation

Engineer’s Comment:
“Prior to the commencement of the project, I wondered if it would be too great a challenge for primary-aged children. I was unsure if they would be able to understand the process and the science.... As the project progressed I found that the children exceeded my expectations in what they could understand, as well as the ability to perform project related tasks.” Michael Blucher

Teacher’s Comment:
“This has been an enormous project that has developed from just needing new filters and pumps to needing a new wall. Changing sheds and filters rooms also. The Board of our school has been very supportive and has organized ministry funding to help pay for this. The project has certainly been very worthwhile. It has alerted our students to the world of engineering and given them an insight into what sort of work engineers do in a very positive way.” Sheriden Blundell

Merit Award Winners

Rangiora High School, Christchurch

Year 13 students set out to create some form of ‘beach recreation’ and decided on a land yacht. With the project specifications clearly outlined, the team began working with local engineer Peter Crawley to research and test possible land yacht designs.

Challenges to solve:

  • Wind shear issues
  • Tipping points
  • Steering mechanisms
  • Portability

Students developed skills in:

  • Model testing
  • Suitable materials
  • Welding
  • Design concepts
  • Structural integrity issues
  • Safety
  • Meeting client expectations
  • Codes of practice

Engineer’s Comment:
“Whilst the land-yacht will not be quite finished by the deadline for this competition, I’m certainly looking forward to my invitation to come and see it in action. It was a huge pleasure to be involved in this project and I wish the boys well in their future engineering careers.” Peter Crawley

Teacher’s comment:
“It cannot be stressed enough that the three students worked independently with minimal input from me due to the circumstance of a combined class. This is a testament to their maturity and the invaluable guidance from Peter Crawley – not to mention the disruption and down time caused by our very own earthquake.” John Keenan

The Gardens School, Auckland

The year seven and eight children identified the need for some kind of watering system to ensure the school’s crops would survive the summer months, when staff and students are on holiday.

  Challenges to solve:

  • Water dispersion
  • Tank placement options
  • Engaging with stakeholders

Children developed skills in:

  • Modelling sprinklers
  • Fluid dynamic concepts
  • The correct engineering process
  • Effective stakeholder communication
  • Independence
  • Inventiveness

Engineer’s Comment:
“From my point of view the students were extremely enthusiastic and proactive and they achieved a lot. They grasped the fluid dynamic concept quickly and came up with various designs....I think they learned a lot by doing and applying what we taught and were diligent in covering the correct engineering design process.” Daniel Leong

Teacher’s comment:
“What we have achieved so far demonstrates that the team has been successful in designing and making a robust and effective solution to the original problem. The students are now keen to complete the project and have the official opening and celebration!” Christine Hansen

Havelock North Intermediate, Hawke’s Bay

Five teams from the Technology elective class were challenged to create a gate design that would allow cyclists, walkers and wheelchairs/pushchairs through while stopping stock and ensuring the stop bank was protected. Their collective effort of designing a rotating gate topped by a novel vandal-proof chain won them the award.
Challenges to solve:

  • 13 criteria points provided by the Regional Council as ‘the client’
  • Problem solving techniques
  • Following the design process
  • Time constraints
  • Durability/ environmental issues

Children developed skills in:

  • Organisational skills
  • Time management
  • Staying with the criteria
  • Research
  • Modelling
  • Innovative solutions

Engineer’s Comment:
“My involvement in the [Transpower] Neighbourhood Engineers Awards with Havelock North Intermediate School was special to me as I had attended the school for my intermediate years. I was pleased that I could give something back to my old school and help a former teacher in one of his classes. I was also happy I could give the students some insight into what a professional engineer does and maybe have them think about it as a career path.” Joe Wilkins

Teacher’s comment:
“By being involved in this project the students have gained a really good understanding of the processes involved in solving design problems. They are enthusiastic; this is best shown by the speed at which they arrive to class each week. The solutions are varied, they show thought and innovation.” Doug Sutherland

Trident High School, Special Ed Centre, Whakatane

The team of ten students worked with a Whakatane District Council engineer to design a production garden with produce being used for the school cooking programme.

Challenges to solve:

  • Eroded soil
  • Finding appropriate plants
  • Plant protection from harsh weather
  • Applying for money to buy tools and supplies

Children developed skills in:

  • Soil analysis
  • Rainfall and weather conditions
  • Erecting a cloche
  • Researching
  • Site plans
  • Creatively sourcing materials
  • Self management
  • Contributing
  • Thinking
  • Using language and symbols

Engineer’s Comment:
“It was awesome. I was made to feel welcome by the students and teaching team. I was continually reminded of the special learning challenges and had to review what could be achieved and how best to share my skills.” Debbie Fransen

Teacher’s comment:
“We have enjoyed participating in this initiative. All those involved have worked as a team and helped toward the success of the project according to individual strength and abilities. We have learned from each other and will continue developing and maintaining the production garden over the coming years. We value the input and expertise Debbie has provided.” Christine Meade

Otumoetai Intermediate, Tauranga

A team of Year 8 boys researched and designed an appropriate staircase for a steep clay bank on the school grounds.

Challenges to solve:

  • Measuring gradients
  • Tackling a complicated engineering problem
  • Budget constraints
  • Stakeholder meetings
  • Building scale models

Children developed skills in:

  • Researching
  • Accurate measurement techniques
  • The design process
  • Accurate scale models
  • Managing the budget
  • Appropriate consultation with stakeholders
  • Basic principles of the engineering process

Engineer’s Comment:
“During the project the group members began to understand what was required to solve a complicated engineering problem. All members of the group improved their understanding of the basic principles of the engineering process because of what they achieved in their project.” David Cross

Teacher’s comment:
 “I am very proud of the students’ learning achievements and efforts. I am also hugely appreciative of David’s input and guidance. He has helped the students gain so much and they will continue to grow as they finish constructing the project, making the whole process meaningful for them.” Murray Thompson

Birkdale North School, Auckland

Three students accepted the challenge to undertake the Principal’s brief to design a safe, visually eye-catching, functional, school entrance also recognising the culture of their school.

Challenges to solve:

  • Time constraints
  • Co-ordinating students coming together from different classes
  • Ability to work as a team
  • Staying focused
  • Making decisions
  • Hard maths
  • Working at lunchtime

Children developed skills in:

  • Team work
  • How to make a power point
  • Converting metres into millimetres on a scale drawing
  • Model making
  • Listening to each other’s ideas
  • Understanding what engineers did
  • Project maps

Engineer’s Comment:
“While undertaking the project, I myself learnt a lot. I learnt more about the engineering and technology process. In my day to day work I do not usually work through the whole process from start to finish of a project. I usually work on small parts, such as designing the final option. It was good for me to go through the entire process, and learn more about option development and evaluation, etc...I was playing a mentoring role, and I could tell the kids respected and looked up to me. This experience has definitely benefited me and my organisation will therefore benefit too as it has been an invaluable experience.” Liam Edwards

Teacher’s comment:
“I feel that each student really understood the process of how the final design was developed, and were able to clearly see the stages involved. It was an excellent opportunity to work through the engineering project process with the support of an engineer and our project supervisor on an authentic problem for our school.” Helen Varney

Royal Road School, Auckland

Students brainstormed ways to make the school a more sustainable place and earn a Silver Enviro School rating, and decided they would be keen to grow fruit and vegetables in the school garden. Unfortunately the tank used to collect rainwater for the garden was in a state of disrepair and could not be used for watering plants.

Challenges to solve:

  • Understanding low water pressure
  • How do windmills work
  • Measuring wind speed
  • What is a prototype
  • Building quotes
  • Building consents

Children developed skills in:

  • Anemometers
  • Problem solving
  • The design process
  • Asking tricky questions
  • Model testing

Engineer’s Comment:
“Working with 9 year olds has been a rewarding challenge. Some of the questions asked by the children really tested my understanding of a few basic principles that have been forgotten since my university days!” Juan Petorious

Teacher’s comment:
“From having the opportunity to work with Juan, his expertise and passion for our action project has really triggered a spark in our students. We have been very fortunate to work with someone like Juan and I am very proud of how much the students have accomplished and achieved.” Christine Abercrombie

Goodwood School, Cambridge

Fed up with having a pool that was too cold to use during the winter months, a group of Year 1 and 2 students worked with two local engineers to find an environmentally-friendly and sustainable solution to heating their pool.

Challenges to solve:

  • Deciding on an appropriate problem to address
  • Defining the parameters of the problem
  • Budget constraints
  • Producing detailed working drawings
  • Consulting with stakeholders

Children developed skills in:

  • Information gathering
  • Refining designs
  • Producing a 3D mock-up scale model
  • Understanding the need for thorough planning
  • Principles of engineering
  • Analytical skills
  • Problem solving

Engineer’s Comment:
“I found the experience really inspiring, especially to find such motivated and enthusiastic pupils....This project has shown how the pupils can and have developed key skills needed to become great engineers. The process involved in the project will stay with them and they will be able to transfer these skills to other aspects of their school life....If only two of these pupils become engineers, the world will definitely be a better place for it.” Chris Maguire

Teacher’s comment:
“Entering the [Transpower] Neighbourhood Engineers Awards has been one of the highlights of my experience as a beginning teacher. The platform that it has provided to stretch the children’s thinking and introduces some quite big concepts (especially for 6 year olds) has made it very worthwhile.” Liam Carroll

Parkview School, Christchurch

The children identified the lack of seating in the junior school as a key issue and sought permission from the principal to begin plans for developing an area of unused playground. With engineer guidance, the class researched building materials and built scale models to present to the Board of Trustees.
Challenges to solve:

  • Problem solving
  • Finding a design
  • Choosing materials
  • Time management

Children developed skills in:

  • Observation
  • Physics
  • Maths
  • Scale models in 3D
  • Attention to detail
  • Applying maths and physics knowledge

Engineer’s Comment:
“This project provides a great opportunity for the students to develop their potential engineering skills; they observed the environment very carefully. They also realised that mathematics and physics were involved and were learning them while doing the project.” Vivian Yang

Teacher’s comment:
“Our Neighbourhood Engineer Vivian has always been approachable for the children, who look forward to her visits and assistance. Vivian has broken the project into manageable achievable steps for the children and myself to understand.” Norma Hubbard

Willow Park School, Auckland

Students at Willow Park investigated ways to find the best use for areas of unused land around the school. They worked out possibilities and picked the best site and idea. They agreed on the idea of designing an outdoor stage. It needed to be useful to as many people as possible, safe, multifunctional, fit the environment and come within budget.
Challenges to solve:

  • Learning about a Gantt graph
  • Site plans
  • Working with set criteria
  • Collecting ideas and getting feedback

Children developed skills in:

  • Interacting with stake holders
  • Measuring
  • Researching
  • Scale drawings
  • Aesthetics
  • Acoustics

Engineer’s Comment:
“It has been a new and rewarding experience working with the students at Willow Park Primary School. It was interesting hearing all of the ideas the students had and seeing their enthusiasm...This project has given the students a better understanding of some of the basic principles used in engineering, and has hopefully helped generate a future interest for them in this field.” Shaun Kay

Teacher’s comment:
“It has certainly been a learning experience for the children involved in this project...The children benefitted from the professional advice and guidance of Shaun and Rod [Hare, Futureintech Facilitator]. I personally enjoyed the opportunity to get out to my office and work with a talented group of students in creating something that will benefit the school community for many years to come.” Jeff Johnstone (Principal)

Sunnybrae Normal School, Auckland

Teachers in charge of the library asked for help to solve some problems.  They shared their problems of suitable display space, too much sun in summer and inadequate seating with a group of selected students. The students set to work to see if they could come up with some solutions.

Challenges to solve:

  • Learning to sketch a floor plan
  • Scale drawings
  • Interview techniques

Children developed skills in:

  • Interacting with stakeholders
  • Designing surveys
  • Designing inventions
  • Inventive thinking
  • Measuring with tools
  • Using ‘keynote’ on the computer

Engineer’s Comment:
“This was an amazing experience, I valued working within the community and working with technologists and engineers of the future. The students were enthusiastic, creative and very talented. I learnt a lot about communicating engineering to the public, and communicating with children.” Carolyn Powles

Teacher’s comment:
“Taking part in the Transpower competition has been valuable in so many ways...It has been really important for the children to learn how a project is tackled from defining a problem, to consulting stakeholders, taking into account the constraints, to looking at solutions and evaluating them right through to presenting a final solution. This ‘formula’ for tracking a problem is an extremely valuable skill which can be used in all areas of life.” Trudy Thumath

Maranatha Christian School, Wellington

Two teams of students were asked by the Maranatha Board of Trustees to devise some options for crossing the creek that cuts through the school’s bushwalk. With help from local engineer Joseph Riley, the students aged from nine to twelve, researched bridge types, the creek environment, Council requirements and the potential for flooding.

Challenges to solve:

  • Working with geotechnical engineers
  • Perseverance
  • Scale drawings
  • Researching
  • Timeframes
  • Working and speaking with stakeholders

Students developed skills in:

  • Co-operation
  • Patience
  • Confidently speaking with adults
  • Organisation
  • The design process
  • Attention to detail
  • Life skills in a real life context

Engineer’s Comment:
“Throughout the project I have been supported by many other engineers who have also helped to provide technical knowledge to the Maranatha students. At the end of the project it was great to see the students’ presentation and witness all the different aspects of the project come together in very good solutions to cross the stream. I would very much like to see this project proceed with the help of the school community to provide a safe and fun crossing of the school stream which will be beneficial to many students in the years to come.” Joseph Riley

Teacher’s comment:
“I found this project to be very challenging as I have never been involved in a project such as this so for me (and consequently my students) having engineers work with us was invaluable.” Petra de Ruiter

Pacific Christian School, Auckland

The school is situated within church grounds and the church parking area doubles as the school playground. As well as the limited space the students had identified that this arrangement was not particularly safe for them or for the cars.

Challenges to solve:

  • Safe ball kicking
  • Safe walking space for students
  • Child friendly play surface
  • Not enough play space
  • Traffic mixed with children
  • Unsafe drop off zones

Children developed skills in:

  • Being part of a team
  • Altruism
  • Traffic engineering language
  • Working with stakeholders
  • Working effectively with the community

Engineer’s Comment:
“The students of Pacific Christian School should be very proud of their accomplishments so far. I have had the privilege yet again to work with such talented young minds that are fearless when it comes to innovation, intrigued when it comes to learning and determined in their quest for the perfect solution. These qualities make being a community engineer worthwhile.” Veronica Maka

Teacher’s comment:
“This project has been an eye-opening experience for the kids, in the sense that they came to know how engineering is impacting on their daily lives, more than what they thought. Their concept of engineering was limited to fixing cars and building bridges but they never realized that engineering impacts on every aspect of their lives.” Lisita Paongo