Students win big contest
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.