Network Tasman supports EVolocity Challenge

Network Tasman supports EVolocity Challenge to help equip region’s students for careers in design, engineering and technology.

Excitement is building as teams complete their entries for this year’s regional EVolocity Challenge, sponsored by Network Tasman. The EVolocity Challenge engages teams of students around the country in designing and building an electric vehicle using an electric motor componentry kit provided by EVolocity. 

Nelson Tasman teams are set to showcase their creations at the regional final at Trafalgar Park from 5pm on 19 October.

This year, six schools from Tasman are taking part;  Nayland College, Garin College, Waimea College, Tapawera Area School, Golden Bay High School and Motueka High School. 

The Head of Department for Technology at Moteuka High School, Peter Allan, says the enthusiasm shown for the task by his school’s two participating teams has been incredible and builds on the success of last year’s team, which competed at the finals in Christchurch and was the overall winner of the national EVolocity Challenge.

“Last year four year 12 students from engineering, science and computing subject areas worked together to design, plan and construct an electric vehicle,” says Allan. “The engineering boys Dale and Kendall were responsible for the construction, with all students involved in the design and planning. Lawrence from computing did the programming of the vehicle to make it run and built a website which told everyone what was happening and the progress being made. Hannah from science did the electronics and wiring. The increased range of skills in all areas was immense and all the students were highly challenged.

“The one point that stuck out in my mind was that they were all learning new skills off each other and even the computer teacher remarked that Lawrence had gone back to class and was teaching him and the class how to programme picaxe.”

This year Motueka High School has two teams competing. “Many students come to the workshops every day to watch the students in the teams at work. I have been involved in many projects in the past but no other programme offers the level of learning and cross-curricular learning that this event does.”

Network Tasman’s CEO Oliver Kearney says the company is proud to sponsor the Tasman EVolocity Challenge, particularly given the company’s own interest in electric vehicle infrastructure. 

“We believe that electric vehicles are the future,” says Kearney. “That’s why we have already installed a fast-charging electric vehicle station on our network and have plans to install more in other locations. We also believe that experiential learning like this will help to train the engineers that companies like ours will need as future staff. That’s got to be a good thing.”

Meanwhile Peter Allan says that the level of public interest in the students’ work has been remarkable.

“After last year’s EVolocity Challenge finals in Christchurch we displayed the kart at the local A & P show. The vehicle was just inundated with people all day and the questions ranged from the building and racing of similar vehicles to questions about what transportation might be like in the future. We also displayed the kart at Richmond Mall and the feedback was fantastic. People are interested.

“For schools that take up this challenge, the rewards to students and to the school are really worth the effort that goes into it. It does take an investment of time from teachers but the learning outcomes are one that would not be possible in any other programme. As a teacher the hardest thing I find is learning not to tell the students what to do. It is their project and their work.”

EVolocity Challenge schools programme national manager Les Black says that the challenge has been a great success since its launch in 2014. “EVolocity participants gain knowledge, skills and passion in the areas of design, engineering and technology, preparing them for 21st Century careers and empowering them to help create a more sustainable future,” says Black. “We’re grateful for the support of Network Tasman, Nelson Electricity and others as it allows us to grow this already successful programme for the benefit of more young New Zealanders and their communities.”