The team from Waikato Diocesan, from left, Isabelle Groves, Abigail Groves, Gemma Smith, Aliyah Thotathil and Caitlyn Appel
No speed records were going to be shattered at the Kartsport Hamilton racetrack on Saturday, but maybe a few glass ceilings were endangered.
More than 160 students from 14 schools descended on the course in Airport Road for the Evolocity 2018 Waikato Regional Finals. The event saw teams face off in a dizzying array of electric powered bikes and carts that the students had designed themselves, competing in categories from best design, most efficient, and of course head-to-head drag races.
The event’s organiser, Waikato Engineering Careers Association’s Levinia Paku, said the aim of the event was to encourage young people to look at engineering as a career. “They don’t go that fast, but there’s still bragging rights,” she said.
Paku said there was a desperate skills shortage in the sector and the event also had an important secondary aim – to encourage more girls to have designs on an engineering career.
She said this year’s event, the third, had 50 female students taking part, and she was clear why there had been an increase in female participation.
“Targeting the right teachers.”
She said schools that express an interest in the event are provided with an electric motor and parts, then it’s up to them how they put together either their bike or cart.
“The beauty of Evolocity is it aligns with their tech classes and NCEA. It’s inspiring them.”
The Year 11 team from Waikato Diocesan School for Girls certainly seemed inspired.
Abigail Groves, Gemma Smith, Caitlyn Appel, Isabelle Groves and Aliyah Thotathil had transformed an old bike owned by the Groves twins’ father into a flaming red, fire-engine inspired racer.
Caitlyn said that when their teacher raised the idea of the event, “we were the only ones who put their hands up”.
She said that her classmates’ initial lack of enthusiasm was soon changed as they saw the electric bike begin to take shape.
“It’s so cool,” Aliyah said.
“It’s an opportunity to build things.”
Paku seemed to be pushing at an open door with the Diocesan girls, too – all said they want to take their interest in engineering towards a career.