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Innovation Excellence – Mechatronics Academy Students Recognised at National Competition

The challenge was set early in the year. We needed to design, prototype and build an electric vehicle to compete against other school teams across a variety of challenges including a drag race, street circuit, gymkhana and economy run.

Our team was focusing on the drag race – the maximum speed at 60m, then stopping as fast as possible, and the economy run – the ability to drive as far as possible on a set amount of power. These challenges required a lightweight and stable kart with all design decisions being well-considered and prioritised to produce the maximum benefit for the team.

Alex Lasenby, Max Pearce, Britten Somerville and Stefan Zdravkovic were up to the challenge and collaborated excellently to develop, build and test their kart. Such was their drive to produce a top-quality vehicle, we were still testing and modifying parts on the Saturday afternoon before the regional competition. The kart performed well enough at the Auckland Regional competition for us to qualify for Nationals. We had a busy two months juggling external exams, internal assessment deadlines and making modifications to the kart.

The National race day was Sunday, 24 November. The venue was the Kartsport Hamilton. Despite the early start, the team was in good spirits and looking forward to competing against the 55 top teams in New Zealand. The Kart – now nicknamed ‘Doug’ was a top performer on the targeted Drag Race and Economy Run – managing to drive for nearly 30minutes on the power a 100W lightbulb.

Britten then drove an excellent loop of the street circuit and Gymkhana, showing off Doug’s manoeuvrability and acceleration expertly.
The University of Auckland’s Head of Engineering Faculty then interviewed the top teams to get a full understanding of the thought process and innovation that had gone into each vehicle.

At the prize-giving that followed, we were recognised as one of the top 5 teams for Electronic Innovation and won the Engineering Innovation award. This award was a recognition of the all-round quality of design, material selection and manufacture. The award was presented by the University of Auckland’s Head of Engineering Faculty, Professor Kevin Sowerby. He was impressed by the innovation shown by our team across the huge range of parts and systems required to produce an electric vehicle.

Congratulations to Alex Lasenby, Britten Somerville, Max Pearce and Stefan Zdravkovic. The success of this project reflects the effort and time invested in its development.

A huge thank you to John Somerville and Kennards Hire for transporting our vehicle to and from Hamilton. Your help is hugely appreciated.

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