The banks of Oranga Lake at the University of Waikato were crowded with onlookers last week, as more than 30 student-built model boats battled it out as part of the annual University of Waikato Engineering Design Challenge.
Each year, convenor of the Foundations of Engineering paper Dr Rob Torrens organises the project where first-year engineering students design and build model boats and test their designs in a series of elimination races across the campus lake. The fan-propelled boats complete races around a course which test their manoeuvrability and whether they could last the day.
Team Djibouti won the final battle, which came as a surprise for first-year mechanical engineering students Alex Dixon, Gareth Hall and Akhil Babu, civil engineering students Chloe Roque, Aliesha McKillop, and Sean Mccarthy, and electronic engineering student William Stevenson.
“This is such a rewarding win for us as we put in a lot of hard work over the semester,” says Aliesha. “There is a lot of pressure on the day, but our boat performed really well. Overall it has been a great experience and a very worthwhile project to be involved in.”
Dr Torrens was very pleased with how the event went: “We were lucky the weather cleared up and we had some really competitive boats this year.”
The race has been held, in some form or another, for about 15 years and has become a staple event on the calendar of Waikato engineering students.
Fourth-year students and other engineering staff were also involved. The fourth-year students act as syndicate managers as part of their project management paper. It has long been a tradition for staff to build their own boat, which is raced during the event against other student boats.
“I was particularly pleased that the staff boat beat the student boat, albeit under controversial circumstances,” says Dr Torrens.