• Electric vehicles spark engineering interest

    Aug 2016 -

    Engineers and teachers are praising a new initiative they say is sparking renewed interest in science, maths and engineering in Waikato secondary schools.

    EVolocity Waikato is a region-wide competition where students design, build and race their own electric vehicles with assistance from teachers, tertiary tutors and mentors from engineering businesses.

    More than 70 students from 12 schools are taking part in the regional competition for the first time, designing and building their own electric cart or bike equipped with an electric motor kit.

    Next month they will go head-to-head, racing their vehicles in a drag race and on a street circuit to see which schools’ electric vehicles will go on to compete in the national finals in Christchurch on November 27.

    As well as speed, vehicles will be judged on economy, rolling resistance and motor control. Other prizes will be awarded for innovation and sustainability, with extra points for body design, bling, creatively dressed teams and community awareness.

    Waikato Engineering Careers Association (WECA) manager Mary Jensen said EVolocity has been an excellent way to spark interest in important secondary school subjects and mechanical and electrical engineering.

    “EVolocity puts students in a workshop setting and sees them practising the subjects they are learning in the classroom in a hands-on way. For most students this will also be their first taste of engineering and hopefully will inspire the best students to pursue careers in this lucrative sector,” Mary said.

    WECA is co-ordinating EVolocity in the region and its engineering company members, along with Wintec and the University of Waikato, are supporting the initiative.

    “We’re facing a shortage of skilled engineers as a region and as a nation so our members and tertiary providers are very motivated to equip and inspire the next generation of engineers. We see EVolocity as complementary to the school curriculum as it gives students that extra taste of what engineering looks like in real world.”

    St Johns’ College head of technology Steve Andrew said 10 Year 13 students taking part in EVolocity at his school had embraced the challenge, renewing their vigour for technology, maths and science subjects.

    “They’re using core subjects like science and physics in the workshop and they’re so engrossed. It’s also probably the first time they have been exposed to mechanical and electrical engineering, so that’s a big part of it too,” Steve said.

    Team work among students and teachers had been another positive spinoff.

    “Our technology teachers are working together and students are working together to solve problems for a common purpose. The competition element of it has really motivated them. The response from everyone has been great,” Steve said.

    EVolocity was founded in Christchurch in 2014 and Executive Director Rob McEwen says Waikato, with hundreds of engineering businesses, was a good fit for their mission to establish EVolocity throughout New Zealand.

    “Waikato has really embraced EVolocity and we expect it will continue to grow here in subsequent years,” Rob said.

    A final EVolocity Waikato Build Day will be held on September 3, where vehicles will be scrutineered and teams provided with a checklist of fixes required.

    Vehicles will be scrutineered a second time before the regional final, to be held at Kartsport Hamilton, Airport Rd, Friday September 16, from midday. Members of the public are welcome.


    For more information:

    Levinia Paku
    EVolocity Waikato co-ordinator
    022 372 0335


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