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Futureintech - our involvement in 2010

Contributor: Carolyn Powles

Date: 21 December 2010

Futureintech is an initiative of the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ) and is funded by NZ Trade and Enterprise (a publicly funded organization). Futureintech was established in 2003, and attempts to increase the number of young New Zealanders choosing a career in technology, engineering and science.

Futureintech Facilitators around New Zealand work to develop links between schools and local industries. Central to this work is the recruitment of Ambassadors - young people working in technology, engineering and science who are trained by Facilitators to volunteer in schools. Their contribution includes giving presentations, explaining their work, supporting projects, providing a real-world perspective and demonstrating the practical applications of the curriculum. There are currently over 540 trained Ambassadors working with Futureintech, representing a wide variety of industries.

Airey Consultants have been supporting Futureintech since about 2007, by allowing graduate members of staff to become Ambassadors, and spend time working with local schools to promote engineering as a career option.

Chris, Andrew and I have been involved in Career Expos, Physics & Science classes, and as “local engineers” involved in Neighbourhood Engineering projects. Our time spent as Futureintech ambassadors also contributes to our continuing professional development hours, which are a requirement of becoming a Chartered Engineer.

This year I have been involved in a Transpower Neighbourhood Engineering project with Sunnybrae Normal, the brief was to re-design the library, to address a number of existing issues. After introducing the class to Engineering as a career, I explained some of my own work examples and some international and local landmark civil engineering projects. 

We started the project by identifying the steps necessary to successfully complete a design project. After producing their own progress chart the project was underway.

The problems included a lack of shelving, shelving that was not easily accessible to the younger children, lack of quiet reading space, heating and cooling the library and a number of other issues. In their teams the students researched existing products available that would fit the design requirements, as well as inventing a number of innovative concepts and solutions. The students ranked the options based on meeting the design requirements, and the estimated cost using a criteria grid. 

The students undertook surveys of other students, librarians and teachers to help with the selection process. They also completed a powerpoint presentation of their solutions, and presented this to the stakeholders, including members of the board. The board approved the classes final design and the library renovations are now underway.

This was a great experience, I valued working within the community, learnt about communicating engineering to the public, particularly children. The project won a merit award in the transpower competition, so Murray and I attended a school awards assembly to hand out certificates and the cheque.

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