Airey Graduates Support Futureintech


Airey Consultants has volunteered the time of four young engineers in the Futureintech program since the beginning of 2008.  Simon Marshall, Carolyn Powles, Andrew Hoogerbrug and Chris Concannon are all successfully involved in the program.

The program came about as a result of a ministry of social development survey identifying the need to grow, sustain and retain a highly skilled ICT (Information and Communications Technology) workforce. Rapid growth in this important wealth creating area requires a sufficient supply of trained graduates. Through studies it has been shown that the majority of career choices are made during high school.

New Zealand now has the lowest rate of professional engineering graduates in the OECD. This equates to 5% of all graduate compared to the average of 15%, and over 30% in South Korea. Futureintech was created as a result of the need to address this shortage.

Futureintech is a government funded initiative of the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ) and is designed to encourage young people to pursue careers in the engineering and technology fields. It is a programme designed to provide teachers, career advisors and students with industry role models and to show students that technology and science based papers can lead to a rewarding career. It provides a real-world perspective on subjects such as maths and physics.

Both Andrew Hoogerbrug and Carolyn Powles have worked with a school on the Neighbourhood Engineers Award programme. This programme is designed to provide students with an awareness of the engineering profession while fulfilling the technology requirements of the school curriculum. The competition involves the identification of a need or an opportunity in the school or the local community. Students, teachers and the engineer then collaborate as a response to this identified need and follow technological practice to come up with a solution. It provides students with a practical example of how to work through a problem from the initial brief through to the final design.At all times a log is kept of the collaboration to demonstrate the engineer and students involvement. In some cases the winner receives the funding from the school board to construct the item. The engineers make weekly visits to the school to monitor the progress and act as a mentor to the teacher and students.

Last year, Andrew worked with St Josephs primary in Takapuna on the design of a sandpit. The students worked through concepts and looked at issues such as drainage and how to draw things to scale.

Carolyn worked with Milford Intermediate senior students on the design of a sun shade so that children would be able to play and eat their lunches safely in summer. Issues such as where the best position for the shade and preferred shade cloth material were tackled. This cumulated in the assembling of a proposal to the Board of Trustees. The success of the project resulted in Carolyn’s group winning the Neighbourhood Engineers Award prize for 2008. Congratulations again to Carolyn for this achievement.


Chris was involved in a bridge building unit at Mairangi Bay Primary. The teachers were required to teach a unit about loads, forces, materials, and design with a specific focus on bridges. This was an area the teachers were not familiar or comfortable teaching, so Futureintech was contacted to provide assistance. An initial meeting with the teachers was organised and a framework was determined for the unit. Chris delivered two presentations, one about engineering in general and the second covered the required areas in the curriculum with practical demonstrations and examples. The children were then encouraged to construct their own bridge and Chris returned to judge these.

The unit was developed further by Rod Hare the North Auckland Facilitator with the assistance of some volunteer engineers including those from Airey Consultants. The idea was to expose the students to as many different disciplines as possible under the same unit. It was proposed that geotechnical engineers could talk about bridge foundations while the structural engineers can discuss the structure of the bridge and surveyors could come in to talk about how bridge is set out accurately for construction. It was determined that there was a great opportunity to have specialists in these different areas come in to show the students practical demonstrations and testing equipment. In addition a special “bridge in a bag” practical demonstration was designed. This is a special structure that ‘morphs’ into the different types of bridges. It can be a beam, arch or suspension bridge. Ten of these have been made and schools are utilising these for the bridge building units.


Following the success of the bridge building unit Chris has been asked to present this experience as a case study to new teachers at the teaching training schools at AUT and the University of Auckland. This was to show the teachers how valuable the Futureintech programme is and how it can assist in making technology based areas of the curriculum more exciting and appealing to students.

Airey Consultants remains a strong supporter of Futureintech and continues to volunteer engineer’s time to this valuable program.  

Contact Chris if you have any queries or visit the Futureintech website at

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