Student designed vehicles put to the test
It was a busy day in Rotorua for teams from across the Bay of Plenty earlier this month that assembled to showcase the electric vehicles they had spent the year designing. Thirteen teams, comprising 53 students from six schools and organisations, participated in five events. All teams started with an economy run, aiming to drive energy efficiently in order to go as far as possible on a limited amount of power. Next, teams split up to rotate through a drag race (fastest wins), gymkhana and obstacle course that tested their speed and manoeuvrability; and finally, a presentation where teams explained their design process and learning journey to an industry judge. The journey for teams started in March with an introduction to the event and a workshop to start planning their vehicle. Throughout the year, build days were run at Toi-ohomai Institute of Technology Rotorua campus and Rotorua Lakes High School. Teams brought along their materials and built their vehicles under the supervision of engineering mentors, who provided valuable insight into design problems, including developing suitable steering and motor mounts. Covid alert level restrictions meant teams had to get creative in completing their vehicles, and it is a testament to their teachers, whānau and coaches that all 13 teams made it to the start line, because many other teams from throughout New Zealand did not make it to their events. For most of the teams attending, this was their first year being involved, and the average age was 13. There was a range of technical hitches on the day, but support was on hand from judges who quickly jumped into action to ensure all teams were able to compete. The final regional event ran with the support of Rotorua Lakes Council, Evolocity New Zealand and local judges from Vortex, Dobbie, Patchells, Rotorua Lakes Council, Toi-ohomai and other local engineers.