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Calling budding secondary school engineers, furniture makers

Media release
Monday, 27 March 2017

Calling all budding secondary school engineers and furniture makers:
national inter-school ‘Toolbox Challenge’ is back and open for entries

The nationwide ‘Toolbox Challenge’ is again underway to find New Zealand’s future engineers and furniture makers.

The inter-school competition, created by industry training organisation Competenz and open to all schools that offer engineering or furniture subjects in years 11 to 13, is being boosted this year by the launch of a free smartphone app, where students can register, track and update their entries and win prizes.

“The Challenge is a way to build excitement around trade-based subjects and complements the national curriculum. The inaugural competition last year resulted in some extremely complex and interesting projects being entered. It’s a fun way for students to work towards unit standards while gaining exposure to an industry-based challenge,” says Competenz’ general manager of marketing, Rachel Hopkins.

The engineering section of the Challenge tasks students to create a project using any type of material but must include a moving part. The furniture Challenge requires students to design and build a piece of furniture that doesn’t exceed one cubic metre and is made from two types of material.

In 2016, the winning engineering entry was designed by Rangitoto College student James Thompson, whose model traction engine caught the eye of judges. The engine components were created using CAD, a milling machine, jig, welder and a 3D printer.

"I like making stuff. It's fun going in every day and then, at the end of the year, you get to see the finished product that's an entire year's worth of work. My favourite thing about school is getting to do engineering," said James.

The project is to be completed in the classroom as independently as possible. “One project from each category will be selected to represent the school at a national level,” adds Hopkins.

The competition encourages students to have a go at honing their trades skills, and for some it may lead to a career in the trades.

As well as students being able to use the competition’s smartphone app, a new Challenge website has been launched, which gives students the opportunity to share their design progress with other entrants from around New Zealand through photos and video uploads.

Finalist entries will be judged against other schools by industry professionals and representatives from Competenz and also a public vote. Judging criteria includes working drawings, machining and assembly skills, the degree of difficulty or complexity and whether the project meets the Challenge’s specifications. $10,000 worth of prizes for students and schools are up for grabs, including technological gadgets, tools and health and safety equipment.

Students are invited to register online before Wednesday 12 April at

Key dates:
12 April Registrations close
24 October Schools submit finalist projects to Competenz for judging
25 October Public voting opens
31 October Winners announced


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