2011 Award Winners

Engineering New Zealand is proud to announce the 2011 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.

2011 Award Winner

2011 Merit Award Winners

Award Winner - Ararimu School, Auckland

Ararimu School’s winning bridge project started when they were told they could no longer use the reserve that had traditionally been ‘their area’ during break times as the access bridge was now unsafe. With the help from Rohan Pollard of Blueprint Consulting Ltd, the 16 Year 5-6 students started their research and investigated ways to resolve the issue.


Challenges to solve:

  • Establishing the needs of stakeholders
  • Defining and identifying the problem
  • Researching and evaluating options
  • Deciding on bridge style and specification
  • Time and cost constraints

Students developed skills in:

  • Communication and presentation
  • Effective decision making and team work
  • Measurement, calculation and assessment
  • Analysing research and data
  • Model building
  • Designing and drawing structures

Teachers Comment:
“As an educator the value of undertaking the Transpower Engineering Neighbourhood Engineering Competition through Futureintech and working with an engineer was exceptional, exceeding my expectations as a teacher at this level. A fantastic opportunity!” Jane Marshall

Engineer’s Comment:
“I have been amazed at the enthusiasm of the children and the teacher. They have worked tirelessly and consistently over many months, and as a result have been rewarded with an enriched learning experience this year. It has been a real privilege to have been part of this project and I hope to be able to assist Ararimu School again in the future. I look forward to crossing paths with this great bunch of kids again in their working careers as Engineers!” Rohan Pollard, Blueprint Consulting Engineers

Merit Award Winners

Freemans Bay School, Auckland

Year 5-6 students at Freemans Bay School set out to create an ‘irrigation system’ for a community vegetable garden that was to be built in the school grounds. Their task was to design a system to collect and distribute water to four planter boxes. After some research and with the help of engineer Jesse Ashton, they decided to use rain water collected from their school’s new building to water their garden.


Challenges to solve:

  • Understanding the importance of water in the environment
  • Maintenance of the irrigation system
  • Water consumption of the soil
  • Safety issues
  • Site plans
  • Designs and placement

Students developed skills in:

  • Principles of design
  • Innovative thinking
  • Researching
  • Interview techniques
  • Problem solving
  • Working effectively with the community

Engineer’s Comment:
“This project has been hugely valuable for our organisation as we are looking to develop new programmes around water resources and this experience will help us pitch our programmes at the right level for younger students. It has been just as valuable personally; it was more challenging working with Year 5 and 6 students than I expected, as I am used to students twice the age. With the help of Jordon [teacher], the students did a brilliant job bringing together all of their work in the form of a scrapbook and online presentation.” Jesse Ashton, AWT

Teacher’s Comment:
“As a team we feel that we have achieved a great deal with the help of many people. We have installed garden beds thanks to the Rotary Club and it’s a Wood Thing. We have made all final decisions regarding water collection, tank size, placement of the tanks and pumps. For the children, having an engineer work alongside them gave them the motivation and drive to keep working hard on the project. Overall, the process of working with an engineer has been invaluable from my perspective. Jesse’s knowledge and input has kept both the students and myself on track.” Jordon Archibald

Glamorgan School, Auckland

‘Supporting Sustainable Transport Options for our School’ project explores the issues around Glamorgan School’s drop off zone. A group of Year 5 students investigated the concerns regarding the use of the area, and aims to reduce the traffic congestion. Some issues they identified were:

  • High levels of congestion in the area
  • Need to reduce the risk of injury to students and the public
  • Need to reduce the environmental impact
  • Lack of awareness of sustainable transport

As a result of their research and findings, the team at Glamorgan School came up with solutions including designs for scooter/bike storage, shelters at different locations, increasing awareness by educating the community using multi-media presentations and educational brochures, and effectively promoting sustainable transport options.

Students developed skills in:

  • Exploring potential solutions
  • Conducting surveys
  • Problem solving
  • Research and investigation
  • Safety issues
  • Designs and drawings

Engineer’s Comment:
“Working with the students at Glamorgan School was certainly an eye-opening experience for me. They were a lovely bunch of kids and were always very keen to show me what work they had carried out. I was very impressed with the level of skills they had, particularly with computer programs like PowerPoint. They also came up with some great original ideas that I thought were very impressive and they obviously had a great understanding of the importance of sustainable transport. I really appreciate the opportunity and I hope that the students from Glamorgan do really well in the competition because they worked really hard and did a really great job” Josy Bird, Coast Digger Services Ltd

Teacher’s Comment:
“This has been a very valuable exercise for me as a teacher because it is the perfect example of our curriculum in action. It has allowed the students to explore all the key competencies including thinking and problem solving, and to take a problem that has a major impact on our small school community and see how it relates and is mirrored in the wider community. The students’ enthusiasm for this project has been amazing and through an authentic context, they have learnt so much. Lynley Spanhake

St Mary’s Kaikorai, Mosgiel

A senior class at St Mary’s Kaikorai decided to work on creating a ‘Sacred Space’ area within their school grounds. The aim of their project was to develop an area that students could sit, pray, meet and interact with each other, which also reflects the school’s values, beliefs, faith and community.

Challenges to solve:

  • Communication with stakeholders
  • Design and location options
  • Timelines
  • Cost
  • Ability to work as a team

Students developed skills in:

  • Researching materials
  • Decision making
  • Model building
  • Understanding basic principles of engineering practice
  • Letter writing
  • Team work

Teachers Comments:
“We spent two afternoons each week specifically on this project, as well as incorporating it into the literacy, numeracy and art curriculum. The children really got into the project, were on task and often did extra work for it in their own time. They are really looking forward to continuing next term and I am looking forward to seeing their next steps.” Rachael Deerness

“It has been a real eye-opener to see just how driven the children have been when given ownership of a project of this size and importance. They have worked as a team and this can be seen in the way in which this design project has been finished ahead of time and with such impressive teamwork.” Iain Robertson

Engineer’s Comment:
“The ‘Sacred Space’ project has been both challenging and more importantly rewarding for all involved. Through the planning and the staged progression of this project the children have gained a very real understanding of the processes we work through in everyday life. From my times working with the children I have seen them scope the project, research ideas, develop options and weigh up different options through the considerations of benefits and costs. This has been a great experience and I can’t wait to do it again” Rhys Owen, Opus International Consultants Ltd (Dunedin)

Verran Primary School, North Shore

A group of Year 5 and 6 students identified a key issue with their school’s water pump, asking the question “what if the electric powered pump keeps breaking down?” With the help of engineers Dominic and Julian, the students researched sustainable solutions and developed a ‘child-powered’ water pump to water their school’s garden.

Challenges to solve:

  • Defining the parameters of the problem
  • Budget constraints
  • Working with a set criteria
  • Reliability of equipment

Students developed skills in:

  • Problem solving
  • Choosing construction materials
  • Design
  • Co-operation and team work
  • Investigation and research

Teacher’s Comment:
“Undertaking the Transpower Neighbourhood Engineers project has been the highlight of the year as I have learned new information and have watched with amazement as the students have become empowered learners and junior engineers.” Maureen Robertson

Engineer’s Comment:
“It was incredibly rewarding working with all these students as every single one of them had a contagious enthusiasm for what they were doing. I had tremendous fun brainstorming with them and listening to their ideas. I was very impressed with the level of knowledge that the kids already had and their understanding of fairly complex engineering principles.” Julian Murahidy, GHD Limited

Sunnybrae Normal School, North Shore

Having found an area within their school that was unused, the Year 5 ‘Gate’ group decided to research and create designs for an improved seating area.

Challenges to solve:

  • Resource consents
  • Site restrictions
  • Finding a design
  • Choosing materials

Students developed skills in:

  • Scale and map drawing
  • Effective interactions with stakeholders
  • Measurement
  • Conducting surveys and analyzing the data

Teacher’s Comment:
“Taking part in the Transpower competition has been valuable in so many ways. Firstly it has been really important for the children to learn how a project is tackled from identifying a problem, to consulting stakeholders, taking into account the constraints, to consulting experts, designing and evaluating their designs using criteria grids, right through to presenting a final solution. This “formula” for tackling a problem is an extremely valuable skill, which can be used in all areas of life (from personal problems to financial etc).” Trudy Thumath

Engineer’s Comment:
“I found the experience of working with the students at Sunnybrae Normal School very rewarding. The children showed an enthusiasm and creativity which was refreshing for the design perspective of the project. It was great to see the group working towards achieving the goal of designing a practical and suitable solution to make use of the area of the school that would otherwise continue to be unused. Working with the children gave me a new perspective on learning and knowledge.” Laura Foster, Golder Associates

Elmgrove School, Dunedin

Year 1 to 4 students from Elmgrove School worked with engineer Jemma Wells to find ways to improve their school’s front entrance. After conducting a survey and careful research, they came up with a range of ideas including wide paths, separate sections for different activities, bush huts, seating areas, and even a strawberry patch.

Identified Problems:

  • Dead grass under the shade of trees
  • Very muddy ground after rainfall
  • Bumps in the concrete by the front gate
  • Nuisance from adjacent flax plants

Students developed skills in:

  • Research
  • Time management
  • Conducting a survey and analyzing the data
  • Innovative solutions
  • Teamwork

Teacher’s Comment:
“The process has provided the students with the opportunity to have a say in what happens in their school environment. It has shown them that even though they are young, that their ideas can be considered. Once their ideas have been implemented, they will be able to take ownership of what has been done to solve the problem.” Denise Hannagan

Engineer’s Comment:
“I thoroughly enjoyed working with the awesome group of kids at Elmgrove School. I think the best part of the project is that all participants seem to gain something positive from it, myself included. I was very impressed with not only the creativity within the class, but also their ability to rationalize those ideas, and to consider the needs and wants of other users of the garden area; thus ensuring all parties were happy with the final design. I look forward to returning to the school to see the finished product one day.” Jemma Wells, Fisher & Paykel Appliances

Victoria Avenue School, Auckland

After watching a video of their teacher slipping in the playground, students at Victoria Avenue Primary decided that an area surrounding their junior classrooms was a potential hazard to students and teachers. With the help of engineers Helen Evans and Toko Koefod the group decided to improve the area, make it user-friendly and environmentally sustainable.

Challenges to solve:

  • Students from two different classrooms working together
  • Time constraints
  • Safety issues, environmental impact
  • Affordability

Students developed skills in:

  • Understanding sustainability, safety and regulations
  • Measurement
  • Team work
  • Decision making
  • Interacting with stakeholders
  • The design process

Teacher’s Comments:
“We have loved watching the children grow in their confidence to make decisions with evidence to support these. They’ve seen plans get created, re-modelled, evaluated and changed many times over, and now have a greater appreciation for the need for detail and planning before actions of building and planting can be commenced if we are to create the best project possible.” Jessie McQuinn and Hayley Gibson

Engineer’s Comments:
“It was a great experience for me working with a large group of children (50) and two teachers. I enjoyed being able to share some of my civil engineering knowledge and as a female engineer hope I managed to encourage some girls to stick with maths and science and consider engineering as a career.” Helen Evans, HJE Consulting

“Whenever I was interfacing with the children to help with their tasks, they were very excited and enthusiastic to be doing something for their school. To see their ideas turn into something that everybody can understand and see (only drawings at this stage, but hopefully the real thing in the near future) was very rewarding for me.” Toko Kofoed, Beca

Kowhai Intermediate School, Auckland

Year 7-8 students at Kowhai Intermediate have been very busy this past year working on three different projects, which combined won them a Merit award. Before choosing their projects, the group interviewed fellow students, staff and their community to gather information on issues around the school.

The ‘Pergola’ project was chosen to utilize the area above the sport’s field where a tree had been removed, to create a shady area for the students.



Challenges to solve:

  • Defining a location
  • Building constraints
  • Measuring the slope
  • Choosing materials
  • Choosing a design

Students developed skills in:

  • Organisation
  • Time management
  • Measurement
  • Consultation with stakeholders
  • Model building

Teacher’s Comment
“Although we did not start this project until May, the students learned a lot from this unique experience and created a project that included a lot of learning outcomes. At the end of the project they felt very happy and proud of what they had achieved. They enjoyed the valuable experience with the engineer and gained an understanding of what it would be like to work as an engineer in the future.” Sam Ibrahim

Engineer’s Comment:
“It’s great for the students to meet and work with a real-life engineer (a female engineer too!) as this encourages a positive opinion rather than what can often be a negative one. I was extremely impressed by the enthusiasm, lateral thinking and the speed in which the students processed information. It’s this kind of attitude that leads to great team-working on engineering projects” Kate Woolley, AECOM

The ‘Scooter rack’ project addressed the need for a storage unit that would eliminate clutter and free up space, making it easier for the office staff to manage the skateboards and scooters that students came to school on.


The identified problems:

  • No actual storage for the scooters or skateboards
  • Reception area looked cluttered in the morning
  • Office monitors had to move the scooters in and out of the storage room daily

Students developed skills in:

  • Finding a high impact/low cost solution
  • Problem solving
  • Research and investigation of designs
  • Accuracy of measurement and recording
  • Concept drawings
  • Model building

Teacher’s Comment:
“The scooter rack was an interesting project to achieve alongside two other projects (pergola and rain water) in our very busy timetable. In the beginning of the project Kieran wasn’t sure if he can find any solution or a suitable design for it. But with the internet research and interviewing a number of students with scooters or skateboards, he succeeded in coming up with a final design.” Sam Ibrahim

Engineer’s Comment:
“Working with Sam and Kieran emphasized the importance of following a detailed design process for me, while keeping creativity and innovation in the design by considering all possible factors. It was so satisfying to see some of Kieran’s seemingly wild ideas be whittled into a practicable solution, while he discarded other more obvious ideas through rational thinking. I loved being part of what I view as a successful project. I look forward to the scooter and skateboard rack being built and enjoyed by all the kids at Kowhai Intermediate this summer.” Isabella Franks, AECOM

The ‘Rain water Collection’ project was chosen to help the students learn about the importance of saving water and how areas around the school could be improved. The students decided to build a water tank to collect rainwater, which could be used to flush some of their toilets.


Challenges to solve:

  • Cost
  • Deciding on the location
  • Sourcing materials
  • Design requirements
  • Time constraints

Students developed skills in:

  • Understanding engineering practice
  • Team work and co-operation
  • Observation
  • Interview techniques
  • Design sketches and drawings

Teacher’s Comment:
“The Rain Water Collection Project helped a lot of the students to learn about the water we use every day and understand the importance of saving our kiwi water. In the beginning the students seemed a bit reluctant to the idea of collecting the rain water and they felt it would be a difficult task. But in actual fact they begun to seriously engage with the process of the project and enthusiastically looked forward to seeing the final design and their plan realized one day. The project was exciting because it connected with many techniques and processes in technological practice and system.” Sam Ibrahim

Engineer’s Comment:
“I joined the team after their decision to design and install a rain tank to supply a selection of toilets at their school. We first explored the water supply cycle which helped to guide our design process. I really enjoyed trying to communicate ideas about pipes and plumbing through illustrations then following them up with an exploration around the existing plumbing at the school. Judging from their enthusiasm, the students enjoyed this investigative part of the design process.” Robbie Lawton, CPG NZ

Otumoetai Intermediate School, Tauranga

Two groups of students from Otumoetai Intermediate won a combined merit award for their two projects. One team found that the triangle area at the front of their school needed re-designing into a new bus shelter and the other team chose to create a learning platform for their conservation area after the idea was suggested by their student council.

Challenges to solve – Bus Shelter Project:

  • Current design was unsuitable for the surrounding area
  • Concerns with safety of pedestrians, especially students
  • Movement and parking of vehicles including buses

Students developed skills in:

  • Writing, conducting and analyzing surveys
  • Scale drawings
  • Research
  • 3D Modeling
  • Planning and design

model pics 003

Teacher’s Comment:
 “They have made a most impressive scale model to represent a solution to a real problem they see every day at school. They are keen to meet with the Board of Trustees with their proposal and gain funding approval to enhance an area of our school that requires some much needed attention.” Murray Thompson

Engineer’s Comment:
“I have enjoyed working with the group, guiding them, teaching them, passing on my engineering knowledge and seeing the results of the hard work that has been put in to the project. This project has also been of value to me as a professional and on a more personal level it has helped with my teaching. I have greater confidence in my own knowledge and wouldn’t hesitate to take on the task of helping another group in the future.” Anita Jackson, RedCo

model pics 001

Challenges to solve – Learning Area Project:

  • Use as an outdoor learning tool
  • Provide an area for students to interact, sit
  • Opportunity to learn about the environment
  • Hazard prevention

Students developed skills in:

  • Understanding construction and building consents
  • Interaction with stakeholders
  • Scale drawings and models
  • Understanding budgets, proposals

Teacher’s Comment:
“Overall the experience has been hugely rewarding for all involved. David has fostered engineering as a career option for these students and taught them a lot about thinking, planning, having meetings and valuing each other’s input and that of others outside of the group also. I have learnt from further the process of engineering and decision making and having systems in place to improve the smooth running of the weekly meetings and the project as a whole. The students have impressed me with their learning and mature approach and willingness to get stuck in and get the work done.” Murray Thompson

Engineer’s Comment:
“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time working with the two groups from Otumoetai Intermediate on their entries for the Neighbourhood Engineers Award. I believe I have kindled the interests of these students in engineering and have shown them what can be achieved in engineering. I look forward to helping another group in the future.” David Cross, Opus