2013 Winners

Engineering New Zealand is proud to announce the 2013 winners of the Transpower Neighbourhood Engineers Awards. These awards offer students the opportunity to work with engineers 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.

SENIOR WINNER

JUNIOR WINNERS

SENIOR MERITS

JUNIOR MERITS

Senior Winner – Mission Heights Junior College, Auckland

Mission Heights Junior College in East Auckland has won the senior section of the Awards with Project Alert, a device designed to help deaf students who are unable to hear fire alarms. Normally they rely on their teachers and other students to assist them, but it could be dangerous if they are alone – such as in the toilets – when the alarm occurs. The team of four Year 9 students designed a small hand-held pocket device, similar to a cell phone, which vibrates to alert a deaf student when the fire alarm goes off. Their mentor was product development engineer Brendan Vercoelen from Fisher & Paykel Healthcare. The students worked closely with their main stakeholders, Kelston Deaf Education Centre, to ensure that their project would meet the needs of their students.

Challenges to solve:

  • Budget restrictions
  • Area coverage of the wireless device
  • Deadlines

The students developed skills in:

  • Stakeholder communication
  • Programming
  • Coding (using Raspberry Pi)

Teacher’s comment:
I am so proud of our students’ achievements, they have surprised us and possibly themselves, showing passion, commitment, maturity and a hunger for learning that has brought success. Joan Middlemiss

Engineer’s comment:
The Project Alert team is a highly motivated group of young people who find the area of science and technology fascinating. I have really enjoyed working with them as I have seen their project grow from just an idea to a working prototype, and have been amazed at the results. As someone who works with electronics everyday, I have been astounded at their progress over the year. My congratulations to the team for winning this award. Brendan Vercoelen, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare

 

Junior Winner – Christchurch South Intermediate, Christchurch

Christchurch South Intermediate School is one of the joint winners of the junior section of this year’s Awards. A small group of students identified a real need for a scooter parking system at their school. They worked together at all stages; from picking an issue to address, through to research, developing designs, and manufacturing the final parking system solution. The school is now selling the product to other schools as part of its fundraising activities.
The team was mentored by mechanical engineer Nick Yannakis GIPENZ from Powell Fenwick Consultants. Nick also took the students on a field trip to the Selwyn Aquatic Centre so that they could understand the engineering aspects that are involved in a project from start to finish.

Challenges to solve:

  • Time Management
  • Student availability

Students developed skills in:

  • Marketing a product
  • Intellectual property ownership and patents
  • Manufacturing

Teacher’s comment:
The kids learn far better because of authenticity. If I was just writing on the blackboard they wouldn’t be interested but because it is real they really bought into it. Randell Grenfell

Engineer’s comment:
Not only has this project created greater awareness of the engineering profession among the participating students, but by having such a successful project it affects all the students at the school. This is due to the students having created an engineered solution to a real problem. Nick Yannakis, Powell Fenwick

Junior Winner – Waiuku Primary School, Auckland

Waiuku Primary School is the joint winner of the junior section of this year’s Awards. They designed a junkyard mini-golf course which will be built on their school grounds and will be open for the enjoyment of the local community. The plan is to collect entry fees so that the mini-golf course will also be a fundraiser for the school. Waiuku Primary also won the Awards last year with their Buoyancy Aid project; they are only the second school to win two years running.

Challenges to solve:

  • Financial constraints
  • Time constraints
  • Access to resources
  • Vandalism to one of the holes they had created

Students developed skills in:

  • Researching
  • Building surveys and using the results
  • Gantt Charts
  • Forces, angles and velocities

Teacher’s comment:
We decided to enter again this year after the success of last year’s project. It wasn’t the outcome that made the decision, it was the journey: our students really benefited from the experience. Trevor Bennett

Engineer’s comment:
I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the students again this year, it is an experience I would recommend to all young engineers. Georgina Taylor, Beca.

 

Senior Merit – Bayfield High School, Dunedin

Bayfield High School Year 13 student Shaun Tocher has won a Merit Award for his challenging Volumetric Visualizer project, which he has also entered into the Brightsparks electronics and software engineering competition. This project involved a mix of electrical, mechanical and software engineering skills, while getting it finished on time and to budget enhanced Shaun’s project management skills.

Challenges to solve:

  • Time Management
  • Project Scoping
  • Stakeholder Communication

Shaun developed skills in:

  • Project management
  • Circuit board development
  • Programming

Teacher’s comment:
I believe that without Meeral’s input it would have been difficult for Shaun to complete the project to the level he did. Craig Earle

Engineer’s comment:
I am sure this experience will take Shaun a long way in his career. Meeral Patel, Delta.

 

Senior Merit – Mission Heights Junior College, Auckland (7 Projects)

• The Green Machine project, mentored by Paul Ngui, Fisher & Paykel Appliances was focused on creating an alternative source of energy to fuel the world. Students used algae to create a bio fuel and Paul says “There is no doubt that this project has given the group an excellent introduction to the field of science, engineering and technology; which is something they have great privilege in having exposure to so early on.”

• Creative Soakers’ a group of four students working with Lucy Weng GIPENZ Beca, researched putting a water fountain into the Mission Heights Reserve, which is used by students and the wider community.

• Detention Pond Danger was also mentored by Lucy Weng and also had its focus at the reserve. This project focused on safety around the slide and detention ponds that can pool around it.

• Brendon Vercoelen, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare mentored the Safe Zoners who researched the idea of creating a traffic light system to control entry to the drop-off and pick-up lanes at their school, to make is safer and less congested for all. Brendan enjoyed working with the team and noted, “Despite having limited understanding of electronics, the team was motivated to learn the necessary skills to get their project underway.”

• Brendon also mentored the Vi-Doctors. Vi, short for vehicle intelligence, is a digital device which is attached to the dashboard of a car to show important data so that a driver can make an informed decision on whether to continue driving. “The team has leant a significant amount over the duration of the project in both electrical theory and engineering principles.” says Brendan.

• Project Daylight is a visual aid for a visually impaired student who is unable to see the electronic whiteboard unless he sits at the front of the class. This allows him to sit where he wants in the classroom and see the board. This project was mentored by Daniel Magg, Fisher & Paykel Appliances. Daniel said “It was a pleasure to work with these four talented students and I look forward to seeing the final outcome and the benefits of their project.”

• Fonterra Brands Engineer Jermin Tiu joined four students to create Talking Trash. This is an interactive rubbish bin to promote the correct disposal of rubbish, and it records every time it is opened. Jermin says “I learnt more about what it means to be a mentor, and I believe it has helped me grow as an engineer and as a person.”

Challenges, Success and Learning:
The key challenges the students faced and the skills they learned in the process were closely linked. They had to assimilate and apply a lot of new learning very quickly with regards to both electronics and programming, and have worked together really well as a team to make sure that they all understood and could all continue to contribute positively to the project.

Students had to become more structured in their thinking as they worked through the design process and more organised in planning their work and documenting what they were doing.

Very importantly they had to learn to cope with failure. There were times, sometimes over a number of weeks, when students wondered if they would ever get their device to work and then they would have a breakthrough and be able to move onto the next step. They learned to remain positive and persevere, which will serve them very well in the future.

Principal’s comment: “I have seen students who’ve never mentioned the concept of engineering, now seriously considering engineering as a future career option.” Joan Middlemiss

 

Junior Merit – Ararimu School, Drury

In 2013, thirteen female students from Ararimu took on the Bridge Design project that was originally started in 2011. The team in 2011 won the Awards (read their story here) and this year these Ararimu students won a merit award for the continuation of the project. The students had to first work out where to start and understand what had already been done by the other group. After more research they decided that their preference was for an arch bridge, but after further discussion they agreed that a culvert and board walk were realistically the way to go (meeting the budget and client needs). The students learnt how to use a Dumpy measure and also how to present their ideas to the community.

Challenges to solve:

  • How to measure water volume in a stream
  • Understanding the previous work that the team in 2011 did
  • Meeting deadlines

The students developed skills in:

  • Making gantt charts
  • Scale drawings
  • Creating timelines

Teacher’s comment:
The technological process and the educational benefits were huge. The class went from not understanding what we were doing to fully understanding and following the technological process, an excellent learning process for all. Christine Stewart

Engineer's comment:
The students grasped various engineering principles and practices that we use as professional engineers every day as they methodically worked their way through the phases of the project. Rohan Pollard, Blueprint Consulting Engineers

Junior Merit – Belmont Intermediate School, Auckland

Twelve students from Belmont Intermediate were chosen to participate in the Awards in 2013. The students researched potential projects and decided to improve their unused school facilities. They learnt how to use the Auckland Council GIS viewer to identify anything that could affect their construction. They now have a final design which includes putting in more seating, murals, outdoor work spaces, shade sails and games and activity areas. The students were mentored by Sam Lichtwark GIPENZ, from URS and they are due to start constructing their area in Term Four.

Challenges to solve:

  • Identifying what other students wanted, not just what they personally wanted
  • Stakeholder Communication
  • Time management

The students developed skills in:

  • Scale Drawing
  • 3D modelling
  • GIS viewer

Teacher’s comment:
The chance for students to participate in the construction of such a landscaping area has ‘real world’ value and will fill them with a sense of pride at being able to give back to the school something which is usable for others, and their achievement as a group. Scott Boniface

Engineer’s comment:
Working with the students was extremely rewarding. They got genuine enjoyment out of being involved in a community engineering project, and it is great to think that their exposure to engineering through this programme may lead some of them into careers in engineering. Sam Lichtwark, URS

Junior Merit – Churchill Park School, Auckland

The 2012 Year 8 students donated a friendship seat when they left the school and it needed somewhere nice to be placed. The 2013 project group decided on creating a Friendship and Cultural garden, somewhere students could go to meet new students when they felt sad or lonely and which would represent the diversity of the school. The students had to research draining techniques for the winter months when the area was boggy and irrigation techniques when the area was too dry in the summer, and will be creating a manual so that future students can care for the garden when they have left the school.

 

Challenges to solve:

  • Flooding issue around the school grounds
  • Plants; what lives together, works well in the conditions
  • Researching and evaluating options to meet the stakeholder needs

The students developed skills in:

  • Communication
  • Time management
  • Researching

Teacher’s comment:
Through our engineers making the process doable, the students were able to own the process, complete it and feel justifiably proud of their Friendship and Cultural Garden. Vicki Smith

Engineer’s comment:
We think that participating in the Awards helped the students to think logically to solve problems, taught time management and planning skills and how to interact and communicate effectively with a variety of people. Candice Band and Jessica Taylor, Tonkin & Taylor

Junior Merit – Freemans Bay School, Auckland

Listen Up by Freemans Bay School is the first acoustics project to be entered into the Awards. The aim of the project was to determine solutions to improve the classroom by minimising the impact of traffic noise, as the classroom is situated right by the Wellington Street motorway on-ramp (heavy route from Auckland City to Victoria Park Tunnel). The students were lucky enough to visit the University of Auckland’s Acoustic Centre, where they were taken through the contrasting anechoic chamber and reverberation rooms, and they were helped with an experiment with sound waves and tested their own hearing.

Challenges to solve:

  • Which recyclable materials can be used to minimise noise

The students developed skills in:

  • Measuring sound
  • Teamwork

Teacher’s comment:
Overall, the process of working with an engineer has been invaluable. Andre’s knowledge and input has kept the students on track. The regular meetings and experiments and off site visits have helped keep the project authentic for the students. Sandra Jenkins

Engineer’s comment:
I have one word for the eleven future engineers…Outstanding! It has been a real privilege to be a part of this project and I hope to come back and help Freemans Bay rebuild their classroom. Andre Cowan GIPENZ, Marshall Day Acoustics.

Junior Merit – Greenbay Primary School, Auckland (2 projects)

Greenbay School has won a merit award for their two projects: Polar vs Solar, a project to heat the school swimming pool and Rongoa Garden, a project to effectively irrigate the garden.

Polar vs Solar was mentored by Peter Lou from Babbage Consultants and the prototype they made to test raising water temperature included 82 recycled plastic bottles, helpfully donated by a number of other students at the school who all then became eager to learn the outcome. They managed to get that prototype up to 32 degrees Celsius. The students have designed a full pool area, including their solar panel heated pool, diving boards, slides and spas. The cost of implementing this is huge and so far they have found one way to save some money, with their parents digging the trenches required.

Challenges to solve:

  • Do we use gas, electricity or solar energy to heat the pool?
  • Where to place a solar panel?
  • Budget

The students developed skills in:

  • Gantt Charts
  • Minute taking
  • Sketch-up

Teacher’s comment:
The project has not only involved the engineers but has provided learning opportunities for our syndicate as well as the whole school. Diana Comp

Engineer’s comment:
Being a mentor for the students was also very beneficial for me; I have developed my communication and interpersonal skills. Peter Lou, Babbage Consultants.

Rongoa Garden was mentored by Julian Nye and had nine team members, all with specific positions on the team. There was a Leader, two Designers, two Researchers, two Photographers and two Writers. The students created a timeline for their project and a structure they wanted to follow. The school has a Rongoa Garden (Maori medicinal garden) which is difficult to water through the year. They need to go to the classroom taps, fill watering cans and water the garden by hand, which takes up a lot of their time and is unmanageable, so they designed an irrigation system.

Challenges to solve:

  • Collecting resources for their design
  • Which students could be in the team and how to include the others in the class in some way

The students developed skills in:

  • Stakeholder consultation
  • Prototype design
  • Interviewing techniques

Teacher’s comment:
Working with our engineer has made me realise how engineering concepts can be integrated into our curriculum and classroom programme. Adrienne Ackerman

Engineer’s comment:
The students are already talking about next year’s project and what they would like to do, taking with them all they have learnt during this project. Julian Nye, Auckland Transport

Junior Merit – Howick Intermediate School, Auckland (2 projects)

Howick Intermediate School won a Junior Merit prize for their two projects: Rock-a-bye Baby, a device that can keep a push chair rocking, leaving busy parents to get on with other activities, and an investigation into pollution of the nearby Pakuranga stream. Both projects have been filmed by kids TV show Sticky TV.

The two Year 8 students working on the Rock-a-bye Baby project were mentored by mechanical engineer Seamus Renall from New Zealand Steel. In the course of the project they learnt about electric motors, gear ratios, electricity, batteries, friction, insulators –¬ and the dangers of touching power lines. Using a push chair that teacher Rachel Arnold bought for $1 on TradeMe and a windscreen wiper motor from a pick-a-part yard, the team successfully developed a working prototype. An initial test with a one-year-old baby indicated that the pram rocker could be effective in keeping babies settled.

Challenges to solve:

  • Making sure their device would be safe
  • Finding a cost-effective approach
  • Sourcing materials
  • Overcoming a major design issue

The students developed skills in:

  • Research and surveys
  • Maths and measurement
  • Electricity and simple circuits
  • Using engineering tools

Teacher’s comment:
Jonah and Shivneel benefited greatly from working with Seamus as shown by the awards and recognition they received [Highly Commended at the Manukau Science & Technology Fair, Best Project by a Pasifika Student, and runner up for the IET Innovation Awards]. In addition they also developed a real fascination with engineering through working hands-on alongside Seamus and appreciated the time he took to work with them in this way. Working alongside an engineer has shown the boys that they can make their ideas a reality. Rachel Arnold

Engineer’s comment:
The project was successful in meeting its objective of demonstrating the feasibility of a mechanism to rock a pram. More importantly two very intelligent boys have been introduced to the world of engineering. Their obvious enthusiasm for learning was inspiring to me, and being able to explain just a few things they previously hadn’t known about was very rewarding. Seamus Renall, NZ Steel


The Impact of Urbanisation on our Local Pakuranga Stream project involved a full class, working in three groups. The Pollutionators developed a basket which sits inside a stormwater drain to catch rubbish. The Taniwha Gods developed an informational brochure, and the Save Our Stream made a clay tile mural to raise awareness of how drains lead to local waterways. Their mentor was Eleanor Grant from Beca, and they also worked with ‘expert helpers’ from Wai Care, Auckland Council and Trees for Survival.

Challenges to solve:

  • Understanding all the different organisations and community groups that are already involved
  • Getting information about resource consent applications
  • Finding new approaches to raise awareness

The students developed skills in:

  • Research and surveys
  • Hard Materials Technology – constructing the drain basket
  • Using Auckland Council’s online GIS maps
  • Teamwork

Teacher’s comment:
With help from their engineer mentor, the students were given guidance on how to develop this project and how to ensure their solutions were environmentally sustainable. The students have learnt a lot about the various roles engineers take in our community after going through this inquiry process. Sarah Richardson


Engineer’s comment:
Overall, I really enjoyed working with the students and was impressed with their commitment to the topic and the amount of hard work they put in to researching and developing solutions for their local stream. Every time I work with school students I am reminded of how creatively they think. Eleanor Grant, Beca

Junior Merit – Kelvin Road School, Auckland


The team at Kelvin Road School in Papakura established that there was a need for more places to sit in the shade during break times. With the help of mentors Osama Abdullatif and Sione Taunaholo from HEB Construction and school principal Thomas Robertson, the students embarked on designing a seat that would fit around a tree. The first step was to measure each other and work out the average size of the students who would be using it. Then each member of the team built a model of their preferred design. Once they had settled on a pentagonal shape, the students calculated the volume of concrete and amount of timber than would be needed. With help from HEB Construction, the team was able to turn their design into a finished product, which they are now enjoying using.

Challenges to solve:

  • Establishing dimensions accurately
  • Finding a design that would avoid rubbish being trapped
  • Making sure the tree would be able to get water and grow
  • Researching the best building material

The students developed skills in:

  • Measuring accurately
  • Teamwork
  • Using power drills and mixing mortar
  • Building models
  • Maths of averages

Teacher’s comment:
There is now a small group of children at Kelvin Road School who know what being an engineer now is! They learnt how important it is to be part of a team and contribute towards a solution to a problem. They worked hard to come up with a design which met the design brief. The project is now finished and the children are very proud of what they’ve achieved. Thomas Robertson

Engineer’s comment:
Seeing the students/young engineers engaged in building their own design was fun and very exciting. The project was a huge learning curve for the young engineers – not only on the theoretical side but also the practical side. The practical side of things was very exciting for them. They learnt how to use drills and mix mortar, and putting the components of their seating bench together was huge fun. Seeing the kids in the local newspaper with their smiley faces is a good reminder of the joy and excitement that engineering can bring to our daily lives and the world that we live in.” Osama Abdullatif and Sione Taunaholo, HEB Construction

Junior Merit – Matamata Intermediate School, Waikato

A team of seven Year 8 students at Matamata Intermediate School has won a Merit Award in the junior section of this year’s Awards. The students were challenged by the school to improve and modernise the score board that displays the points won by each house. Their mentor was electrical engineer John Marsden from LineTech Consulting Ltd, who met with them every few weeks to discuss what they had done and their next steps. In the process of designing the new electronic scoreboard, the team investigated lighting options including LED Dot Matrix Boards, LED Neon Flex, LED Ropelight and EL Wire. Their final design combined a moving LED display for text messages with four panels that changed colour to identify which house the information referred to.

Challenges to solve:

  • Identifying the key information that needed to be displayed by the board
  • Finding a cost-effective solution
  • Getting all stakeholders to agree on a design

The students developed skills in:

  • Researching lighting technology
  • Engaging with stakeholders
  • Presentation and persuasive communication

Teacher’s comment:
By allowing students the time to use, investigate, play, try out and experiment with the completed shield they quickly understood what improvements should be made to the project. No need for any questions, just hands-on product testing. The school community is excited and proud of the students’ finished project and their determination to solve all of the problems encountered. I know the students also surprised themselves in what they achieved. Gary Croker

Engineer’s comment:
The students have achieved more than they set out to do. They followed good practice by evaluating options, considering the resources needed, engaging effectively with stakeholders, developing an action plan then carrying out that plan. The finished result is creative and eye-catching and effectively displays information to the assembled students. School management has already enthusiastically discussed applying the system to display of information in other locations. They were enthusiastic, willing to learn and clearly enjoyed the project.” John Marsden MIPENZ, LineTech Consulting

Junior Merit – Newbury School, Palmerston North

Newbury School outside Palmerston North won a Merit Award for their project designing a fitness track for the school field. The participating Year 7 and 8 students and their teacher, Caroline Transom, identified a real need for more break time activities, particularly ones that encouraged them to be active. After brainstorming possible ideas, including a BMX trail and a tree house, they came up with the fitness track concept. The students researched different fitness stations on the internet and visited other schools to evaluate their fitness trails. The team was mentored by structural engineer Chantelle Bailey from Kevin O’Connor & Associates, who is also a Newbury School parent. The students’ final design is now in construction, with the first two stations built at the end of October.

Challenges to solve:

  • Learning about the difference between assault, confidence and fitness courses
  • Choosing the right location for the fitness stations
  • Balancing the demands of homework and project work
  • Developing realistic expectations

The students developed skills in:

  • Learning about building design codes for playgrounds
  • Researching underground services
  • Teamwork
  • Time/project management

Teacher’s comment:
The knowledge they have learnt has been astounding. Chantelle has a wealth of knowledge and in no way ‘dumbs down’ the information the kids need to know. The team have risen to this challenge and surprised many experts who have come in to help them. The concept of a fitness track that works one way and then offers a second set of activities on each station, while also offering a range of challenges for different abilities, is all their idea. The team work and sharing of work has meant that their work habits, social skills and leadership abilities have flourished during this process. They have also become a lot more aware of the impact of each decision they make and how it could affect the community – for example, placing the track as far to the edge of the field as possible so that we can still run cross country. Caroline Transom

Engineer’s comment:
Great experience from an engineer’s perspective. The skills I shared were adopted by the students who operated as a team from Day One. Every week I would step it up to test their ability and level of comprehension relating to technical engineering terms and aspects. It was a great opportunity to be involved with the community, more importantly it was a pleasure to share my engineering knowledge. Chantelle Bailey GIPENZ Kevin O’Connor & Associates

Junior Merit – Normanby School, Hawera

Normanby School in Hawera has won a Merit Award for the second year running, with help from mentor Andrew Richards from Fonterra and teacher Leonie Stone. This year, their project was The Extendable Object Retriever; a device for retrieving balls that had become stuck in trees and guttering around the school. The team of Year 5 and 6 students also benefited from the expertise of two local companies, Quirk Engineering and Hawera Welding Contractors, who helped bring their prototype to life. The team is looking forward to finishing the design in Term Four.

Challenges to solve:

  • Working through the process systematically rather than getting instant results
  • Remembering to listen to and value everybody’s contribution
  • Device needed to be easily operated, portable and safe
  • Need for highly specialised skills and equipment to manufacture prototype

The students developed skills in:

  • Surveying and talking to stakeholders
  • Creating graphs to communicate results
  • Teamwork and discussion skills
  • Developing a design brief and process plan

Teacher’s comment:
As with last year’s project, our 2013 project has provided a valuable learning experience for all involved. The children thoroughly enjoyed working with Andrew again, he was an excellent role model and the level of expertise he was able to give us was essential for us to complete our project. Hopefully this insight will be helpful for them in the future as they try to match their individual strengths with potential career paths. Leonie Stone

Engineer’s comment:
It has been a pleasure working with the Normanby School kids again, as always their ideas and creativity impress me. It was good to see the understanding they gained from what it takes to go from a very general concept to a specific design – the detailed thought needed and having to make something that actually works. All in all, this has been a great experience. Bring on next year! Andrew Richards GIPENZ Fonterra

Junior Merit – Phillipstown School, Christchurch (2 projects)

Phillipstown School won a junior merit award for their two projects this year.

The Traffic lights project used an Arduino microcontroller to power a ‘traffic light’ system designed to manage classroom noise levels. The noise meter lights up a green ‘smiley face’ when the room is quiet, an intermediate yellow panel, and a red ‘cross face’ when the room has become unacceptably noisy. This team of Year 8 students was helped by teachers Daniel Gorman and Christine Donaldson, and mentor Spencer Travers from Trimble Navigation.

Challenges to solve:

  • Limiting the scope to an achievable project
  • Dividing roles among the large group of students
  • Finding the right microphone module and smoothing filter

The students developed skills in:

  • Consulting stakeholders
  • Using Google SketchUp fpr 3D drawings
  • Soldering and building simple circuits
  • Computer programming
  • Graphing and analysing results
  • Developing a design

Teacher’s comment:
Working with Spencer has been great as he is approachable, willing to share and patient. As Technology teachers we are always looking for ways to develop our programmes, but it is near impossible to be an expert in every subject. Having someone who is an expert in electronics and programming available through the year has been very beneficial to us. As teachers we have both learned a lot about the technology process and have seen the value of being able to lead students through this process. Daniel Gorman and Christine Donaldson

Engineer’s comment:
My association with Phillipstown School started with Futureintech’s Project X. This involved students assembling a kitset circuit and programming the Picaxe microcontroller on the board. Students picked up soldering and programming skills from this exercise. Phillipstown School has very good workshop staff and facilities. We felt that all these skills and resources could be used to solve an engineering problem. A few students showed remarkable ability with programming concepts and these students helped develop the program. The prototype worked according to the design. It was very satisfying for the students, teachers and me to see that our hard work had made something that worked well and looked great. Spencer Travers Trimble Navigation

The App Inventors project came from the brainstorming session and initial concept design session for the Traffic Lights project. The original idea – to make an app for a teacher’s Android smartphone that would work as a sound meter – proved to be too difficult, so the team surveyed teachers and identified a need for apps in Te Reo Maori. The Year 8 students developed a Te Reo numbers app similar to the popular ‘4 Pics 1 Word’ puzzle game. The mentor for this project was software engineer Steve Dunford from Allied Telesis.

Challenges to solve:

  • Getting App Inventor working
  • Dealing with internet connection problems
  • Finding an app idea that wasn’t too big or too hard

The students developed skills in:

  • Flow diagrams and planning
  • Marketing and website development

Teacher’s comment:
As technology teachers we are constantly looking for ways to keep ourselves up-to-date with modern technology and areas of growth. Steve has been very supportive in his leadership of this project and provided us with the expertise to pull together a project that is beyond my current capabilities. He is willing to sit and talk with us about difficulties we may have in understanding the programming concepts and also at giving advice on our other technology projects. Daniel Gorman


Junior Merit – Upper Harbour Primary School, Auckland

Budding engineers at Upper Harbour Primary School considered many things for their project. The group of students, who, had each shown a keen interest in design, team work and making things, worked as a team to research a school need. Their school had little space or resources to build things like robotics, electronics, wood work and general hands-on creativity, so they worked with their neighbourhood engineer Andrew Congalton from Engineering Design Consultants to design the Maker Space – a space that teachers and students can access to be creative.

Challenges to solve:

  • Budget constraints
  • Placement
  • Safety, i.e. emergency exits and ventilation
  • Security

The students developed skills in:

  • Teamwork
  • Design
  • Research
  • Estimation

Teacher’s comment:
The Awards project offered something that met all our needs for enriching and extending our students. It has been great to see how well the students responded to the challenge and worked collaboratively to get the project done. Pete Hall, Upper Harbour Primary School

Engineer’s comment:
This was my third Transpower Neighbourhood Engineers Awards project and I was immediately impressed with the technological awareness of the group, which seems to have progressed from previous years.
Andrew Congalton, Engineering Design Consultants

Junior Merit – Rosebank School, Auckland

Rosebank School in Avondale decided to design an irrigation system that collected rainwater and delivered it to the community vegetable gardens. With help from teacher Lavinia Robyns and engineering mentors Steven Lopati and James Russell from Tonkin & Taylor, the Year 5 and 6 students researched everything from soil moisture sensors and pumps to water tanks and gutter guards.

Challenges to solve:

  • Finding a water efficient design
  • Multi-level garden
  • Designing a tamper-resistant system
  • Choosing the right suppliers and components

The students developed skills in:

  • Researching irrigation systems and components
  • Measuring, site surveying and scale drawing
  • Scoping the problem, writing a design brief and using decision-making tools
  • Using Gantt charts to programme work
  • Listening to others and collaboration

Teacher’s comment:
Each child has different skills and strengths which they have used to contribute to the project. All particularly enjoyed the ‘hands-on’ activities such as measuring, drawing to scale, trying out the engineers’ equipment and even wearing James’s jacket! As their teacher I have learnt not only about irrigation systems but also how inquiry learning fits so well with the Technology curriculum. Having a goal which has an impact on our community has made it so much more meaningful for the students. Lavinia Robyns

Engineer’s comment:
Being able to take time out of our at times, busy days to meet with Lavinia and the students has been a fantastic experience. You really can’t be involved with a project like this and not take something special away with you. It’s helped us to see that as engineers we can play a valuable part in shaping the future of young New Zealanders such as those in the Micro Tech Team at Rosebank School. Steven Lopati GIPENZ and James Russell GIPENZ Tonkin & Taylor

Junior Merit – Whangaparoa Primary School, Auckland

The Travelwise Team at Whangaparoa Primary School in North Auckland is a group of students who worked with teacher Debbie Thompson to raise awareness of healthy and sustainable transport options. After a brainstorming session, the team decided to tackle the problem that basketball courts were overcrowded on ‘wheels days’. Their solution was to design a cycle track to provide more space, and a survey showed that more people would bring their bikes to school if there was a cycle track. The final design incorporates different surfaces, pedestrian crossings and give way signs in order to help teach safe cycling. The students worked with resurfacing manager Kacha Vuletich from Fulton Hogan, who shared his expert knowledge about different paving materials.

Challenges to solve:

  • Avoiding damage to trees
  • Cost of paving materials
  • Addressing safety concerns
  • Finding a solution that the rest of the school would actually use

The students developed skills in:

  • Research and interviewing
  • Measuring and calculating paving area
  • Project management and using decision-making matrices
  • Stakeholder consultation

Teacher’s comment:
It was great to see the students using and enjoying science, engineering and maths to tackle ‘real world’ problems. The students especially enjoyed the day Kacha brought different materials to make trials of different surface options for the proposed cycle track. They compacted aggregate, mixed asphalt and made concrete. Messy, but a really fun learning experience for the students. Debbie Thompson

Engineer’s comment:
The pupils were full of enthusiasm, worked diligently and used their great imaginations when designing this project. It was also great to see that science and engineering are being embraced by the school and, more importantly, by the pupils.I hope that one day we can turn this design into reality and build the bike track. Kacha Vuletich GIPENZ Fulton Hogan