Kiwi bach receives a makeover

17 February 2011

Creative solutions for a renewable energy system to power up the ultimate Kiwi bach have won six secondary school leavers scholarships to study engineering at the University of Canterbury.

Creative solutions for a renewable energy system to power up the ultimate Kiwi bach have won six secondary school leavers scholarships to study engineering at the University of Canterbury.

Sixty high school students from around New Zealand took part in the 2010 Energise Your Future Challenge organised by UC's Electric Power Engineering Centre (EPECentre), New Zealand's Centre of Excellence for Electric Power Engineering, which is supported by the electricity industry and hosted within the College of Engineering's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Five of the scholarship recipients will start engineering degrees at UC this year, with the sixth taking up his scholarship in 2012.

Working in teams of three, participants were asked to design a renewable energy system for a Kiwi bach that would use the latest technology, be off the electricity grid and be 100 per cent renewably powered using energy from easily replenished and non-fossil fuel-based natural sources, such as wind, solar and hydro.

The bach was located at Makawhio Point on the West Coast and the designs needed to take into account the bach's remote location and environmental and climate conditions, as well as factor in that the holiday house would be used by up to six people for up to three weeks at a time.

An added twist was that the bach owners had an electric vehicle that needed to be recharged regularly.

The Whimsical Towel Racks, formerly from Shirley Boys' High School and supervised by teacher Peter Wilson, won first prize for an engineering solution that focused on using a micro hydroelectric system using diverted water from a nearby lake to fuel the generator.

Michael Nelson, Vinny Major and Sean McGifford each won scholarships worth $3000 over two years and an iPod Touch, while the school was awarded a prize of $1000 for their science class.

Team Rocket, formerly from Nelson College and supervised by teacher Des Duthie, was placed second with Rowan Tailby, Douglas Hilson and Claude Meffan each awarded scholarships worth $2000 over two years plus an iPod Touch each, while the school also received a prize of $1000.

All scholarships and prizes are sponsored the EPECentre through funding from the New Zealand electricity industry.

EPECentre Director Joseph Lawrence said the initiative was designed to inspire and encourage talented students to consider a future in engineering, particularly in the electric power engineering field, where there were huge opportunities ahead for the next generation of innovative engineers to tackle the global energy challenges of the 21st century.

The two teams were presented with their prizes at a special ceremony held at the University recently and were addressed by Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Engineering) Professor Jan Evans-Freeman. They also toured the University's power engineering facilities.

Speaking at the prize ceremony one of the judges, EPECentre Engineer Dr Stewart Hardie, said the two teams presented "excellent reports".

"Overall I was very impressed by both presentations. The work in both was superb and I think you will all do well as engineering students at Canterbury."

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