30 Oct 2015
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NZ's future tech leaders named in Bright Sparks Awards

By Heather Wright

Students from Tauranga’s Aquinas College and Christchurch’s Burnside High School have taken out the Best Overall awards in this year’s Bright Sparks Awards, with students from around New Zealand shining.

The awards, run by The Skills Organisation, give bright young Kiwis a platform to show their ingenuity and emerge as future leaders in the New Zealand electrotechnology industry.

The awards aim to nurture New Zealand’s future engineers, programmers and electricians.

This year’s awards saw more than 70 entries – a more than 50% increase on previous year’s numbers, says Ross Petersen, The Skills Organisation manager Skills Choice.

“Bright Sparks is a true celebration of inventiveness right across the hi-tech field,” Peteren says.

Stephen Waters, The Skills Organisation general manager strategic engagement, says the competition ‘is a true celebration of inventiveness’.

Students are required to develop a prototype using electronics, engineering and/or programming elements during the year. The prototypes are scrutinised by a judging panel of industry experts.

Briar Patel from Aquinas College won the best overall female award – sponsored by Michelle Dickinson, aka NanoGirl – while Nathan James from Burnside High School was named best overall male.

The People’s Choice award went to William Bradley from Saint Kentigern College in Auckland.

Best concept in the junior (0-14 years) category went to Aurelia Wilberforce from Christchurch’s Lincoln High School, with the senior (15+) category award going to Simon FitzGerald who is home schooled in Auckland.

The Science awards, sponsored by Dickinson, were won by Hayden Schmidt from Auckland’s Northcross Intermediate School in the junior category, with Jonathan Everett from Whakatane High School taking out the senior category.

A team effort saw Ngaruawahia High School take out the junior engineering award, with Tiare Mahutariki, Mollie Abrams and Tammy Tripp joining forces to create ‘Bridge Building’.

Jason Collingwood from Auckland’s Glenfield College won the senior engineering category.

Meanwhile on the software side, girls dominated with Matamata Intermediate School’s Sophie Crispe winning the junior category, and Amelia Cordwell from Wellington East Girls College taking out the senior award.

And with an eye to New Zealand’s environmental future, Cole Anderson of Tauranga Intermediate School and William Wilks from Hastings’ Karamu High School took out the junior and senior environment awards.

Entrants walked away with a combined prize pool worth $10,000 and ‘unrivalled’ exposure to the technology industry.  

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