Taking on the challenge of building an electric vehicle from scratch, students from EVolocity’s nationwide School science technology engineering and mathematics (STEM) programme vied for the coveted title of Innovation in Engineering Excellence at the Auckland regional finals on November 8.
Against the backdrop of the RNZAF Base Auckland runway at Whenuapai, more than 70 Auckland students competed in a variety of events to showcase and test their electrical, computer and mechanical engineering designs as well as vehicle structure and use of sustainable materials.
Sponsors Bridgestone New Zealand and the University of Auckland’s electrical and mechanical engineering departments were treated to an eclectic array of EVs constructed by secondary school students.
The event attracted more than 250 competitors and spectators.
“EVolocity is a fantastic initiative to drive interest in STEM from high school students, and Bridgestone understands the importance of supporting programmes that foster innovation and ideas from young people,” Bridgestone New Zealand business director John Staples says.
“Bridgestone sees great value in the EVolocity programme,” he adds. “It is more than just a sponsorship for us, it is an investment into the development of sustainable mobility for the future, and more importantly, the bright young minds that will create it.”
EVolocity chief executive Sarah Fitzgerald says that while competition levels were high, teamwork and sportsmanship were evident.
“It was fantastic to see the students supporting their peers. “EVolocity students have demonstrated resilience and determination this year and we are thrilled to see them celebrating their success at race day.”
Adding to the excitement, Kevin Harty of Evoke Motorcycles floored his Urban Classic down the Village Green to the tune of 116km/h in six seconds.
Guests enjoyed a tour of the base facilities by JW Group and Auckland Transport in their new Yutong E13 Electric Bus, one of the largest EVs in Australasia.
RNZAF’s Operation Tangata Kanorau programme which inspires younger children to learn about STEM was on display, providing an opportunity to get up close and hands on with an RNZAF training aircraft and its Schools to Skies learning team.
The high calibre of entries ensured a tight race for the top spots in the EVolocity main event, with Whangaparaoa College, Mahurangi College and Howick College the winners, taking out the Drag Race, Street Race and Economy Run events respectively.
Mahurangi College teams “Dark Knight” and “After Burners” were awarded the Innovation Engineering Awards with honourable mention going to Westlake Girls High School and Massey High School.
Howick College won the Earthcare Award featuring recycled parts and environmental considerations, while Mahurangi’s “After Burners” received first place in the Show Stoppers award which emphasised body design and appeal and finish quality.
Judges included world’s fastest female electric motorcycle racer (streamliner) Eva Hakansson, RNZAF’s Operation Tangata Kanorau squadron leader Rebecca (George) Magdalinos, University of Auckland electrical and computer engineering head Dr Kevin Sowerby, the university’s mechanical engineering head professor Krishnan Jayaraman, and Electric Vehicle Podcast host and producer Theo Gibson.
Other EVolocity events, such as the national final initially planned in the Waikato later this month, have been impacted by COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, so organisers hope all next year’s events will run more smoothly.
The University of Auckland’s Formula SAE electric race car team members were also at the Auckland EVolocity event, with Formula SAE also affected by COVID-19 restrictions.