Stu­dents win big contest

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By TERESA HAT­TAN

Four Mata­mata Col­lege stu­dents have proved team work can reap re­wards after win­ning this year’s NZ’s Next Top En­gi­neer­ing Sci­en­tist com­pe­ti­tion.

Year 13 stu­dents Sea­mus Bar­doul, Kelly Petersen, Philip ten Houte de Lange and Re­nae White won the an­nual com­pe­ti­tion after pro­vid­ing an in-depth writ­ten re­port an­swer­ing just one ques­tion.

All the teams were given an open ended ques­tion – ‘If Mt Taranaki erupted, how much would it cost the avi­a­tion in­dus­try?’ The stu­dents said each team could go as in-depth as they wanted.

They said, for ex­am­ple, they could look at the wind di­rec­tion and what di­rec­tion the ash cloud would be mov­ing, what flights it would af­fect (in­ter­na­tional or na­tional) and the cost of all the flight tick­ets. The list of pos­si­bil­i­ties could just go on and on, they said.

The fi­nal an­swer was a given fig­ure, how­ever Philip said the project was all about the process.

The stu­dents were emailed their ques­tion at 9am on the Satur­day morn­ing and they had un­til 6pm to sub­mit their work. The team split the job into each of the stu­dent’s strengths. Re­nae is into graph­ics so she was in charge of the di­a­grams, Kelly wrote the re­port while Philip and Sea­mus were skilled in math­e­mat­ics. They then brought their var­i­ous skill sets to­gether to cre­ate the fi­nal master piece.

Philip said this was the point of the com­pe­ti­tion. ‘‘They said we won be­cause we had strength in ev­ery area.’’

Kelly said team work was all about play­ing to peo­ple’s strengths. ‘‘This com­pe­ti­tion re­ally brings that out, if you don’t play to peo­ple’s strengths you don’t get any­where.’’

Sea­mus said time man­age­ment was ‘‘huge’’ too. ‘‘We had to reach dead­lines within our own jobs.’’

The project was also about be­ing able to make de­ci­sions fast.

Kelly, Philip and Re­nae were in­volved in the com­pe­ti­tion last year, so they knew what the ex­pe­ri­ence would be like and how im­por­tant set­ting dead­lines was. Kelly and Re­nae’s team were run­ners up in the com­pe­ti­tion last year.

Sea­mus and Philip are go­ing on to study en­gi­neer­ing next year. Sea­mus said it was good be­ing able to put what they want to do into a real life sit­u­a­tion, ‘‘rather than just look­ing at text­books all day’’.

Re­flect­ing back on the ex­pe­ri­ence, Kelly said she re­alised that in any job she does, she has to be sur­rounded by peo­ple.

‘‘I love work­ing with peo­ple, I love team work and I love be­ing part of a group.’’

Philip said work­ing to­gether as a team made it all worth­while, ‘‘be­cause you can’t be good at ev­ery­thing’’.

The Mata­mata Col­lege stu­dents worked to­gether to take out first place at the prob­lem-solv­ing team event for sec­ondary stu­dents or­gan­ised by the Depart­ment of En­gi­neer­ing Sci­ence at The Univer­sity of Auck­land.

This com­pe­ti­tion is for teams of three or four Year 12 or 13 stu­dents who have in­ter­ests in math­e­mat­ics and sci­ence and was held over one day in Au­gust. First prize was $6000.

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