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Partnership to identify next generation of rocket scientists

The highly successful Bright Sparks Competition has rebranded Skills Bright Sparks and partnered with Rocket Lab, the world-leading small satellite launch service founded by New Zealander Peter Beck, to identify the next wave of science, tech, and engineering experts.

Skills Bright Sparks is known as the preeminent competition for showcasing New Zealand primary and secondary school students’ most impressive tech and engineering inventions, designed by some of the country’s brightest young minds.

The partnership between Skills and Rocket Lab is an exciting one for the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) industry – as it signifies the importance of putting energy into encouraging technology and innovation in NZ school students.

Rocket Lab CEO and founder, Peter Beck, says the partnership is a great way for Rocket Lab to help encourage the next generation of New Zealanders to consider careers in space exploration and innovation.

“I’ve been fascinated with space ever since I was a kid but when I was at school, I was told to be ‘realistic’ and bring my ideas back down to Earth,” says Mr Beck. “I’m grateful I had the encouragement to ignore that advice and follow my dreams instead, and I want to support our next generation to do the same by opening up access to space for everyone - including passionate and innovative kids across the country.”

As well as providing members of the Rocket Lab team as judges for the Skills Bright Sparks competition, Mr Beck will also give the winning students a personal tour of Rocket Lab’s rocket factory and Mission Control – as well as the chance to watch a ‘hotfire’ test of its Rutherford rocket engines.

The rebranding of Skills Bright Sparks allows Skills to be the naming sponsor of an event it has now run for over 20 years.

“Skills has undergone a significant period of growth,” says Garry Fissenden, CEO of Skills. “We are New Zealand’s largest industry trade organisation and are well known in trade and industry – so we just felt it was high time we branded the competition Skills Bright Sparks.”

As well as Rocket Lab, Skills Bright Sparks is once again sponsored by ASB, who have supported the competition for a number of years, as well as Datacom, Shift, NZ Print, Microsoft and NZTE.

Since the competition began in 1998, the number of entries to the Bright Sparks competition has grown each year and, at the same time, seen an increasing sophistication and complexity in the level of design and execution. Previous winners have gone on to secure jobs with the likes of Google, Instagram, IBM, Rex Bionics and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare.

From apps and gadgets, to experiments and revolutionary machinery, the entries Skills receives to the competition show a huge bounty of technological genius waiting to be discovered.

To accommodate the sheer breadth of design concepts that Skills Bright Sparks has seen entering the competition, and the speed of technological advancement, the competition has also expanded its categories.

“This year we are adding a specific coding category as this is something that has grown at great speed in New Zealand schools,” says Fissenden.

The Skills Bright Sparks competition is open to school students throughout New Zealand. Entries open on 26 August and close 27 September. For more information, see www.brightsparks.co.nz.

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