Creative computing, adventurous engineering

Creative computing, adventurous engineering
"Teaching our future engineers to be innovative in their thinking and problem-solving is at the core of what we do at Massey. Introducing the Vex robotics programme to our students, and through them to hundreds of high school kids around New Zealand, has been a brilliant tool to involve young minds in the excitement of working cooperatively to build something new and to make it work. They have a huge amount of fun while they’re at it—it’s a competitive game played internationally, so it’s intense and challenging. But they’re also learning important stuff, like the power of teamwork, of the need for creative thinking and strategic planning, and things like being gracious under pressure while striving for excellence."

Dr Johan Potgieter, Mechatronics lecturer.

Sophisticated mathematical models and computer software can help save lives by predicting the way deadly flu strains and viruses such as HIV spread and mutate. At Massey’s Institute of Natural and Mathematical Sciences, researchers are developing modelling tools and technology applications in collaboration with the World Health Organisation and other agencies to help control and monitor epidemics.

Meanwhile, stargazing scholars at Massey are combining astronomy with computer wizardry and mathematical genius to discover new types of planets in our galaxy, delivering rich insights into the formation and dynamics of solar systems.

Looking further ahead to the nation’s future economic, infrastructure and technology development needs, Massey’s School of Engineering and Advanced Technology (SEAT) has identified potential problems—such as stalled economic development resulting from skills deficits and an innovation drought—which are likely to arise down the track as a result of a shortage of engineering and technology graduates.

Innovative academic leaders in engineering, mechatronics and product development have stepped up to the challenge by teaming up with local industry players and government department New Zealand Trade and Enterprise in launching the American-based Vex Robotics programme in New Zealand.

The ‘game’, played by high school teams trained by Massey engineering students, involves competition, collaboration, tactics and strategy, as well as an understanding of mechanical engineering, electronics and software development. This compelling programme appeals to a new generation of creative, technology-oriented youth who have a fresh appreciation of the career opportunities in science and engineering as a result of participating in local and international competitions. It has produced world champions among our local schools and Massey graduates, and it spawned the first-ever Robotics World Cup, held during the Rugby World Cup 2011.

The Albany basin, known internationally for its innovation and entrepreneurial spirit, has had a rapid growth in technology-based businesses. One of the newest is Cleanflow Systems, a North Shore-based company that specialises in technology to evaluate underground water infrastructure. Its products are in 35 countries, including China, Japan, Singapore, 20 states in the US, and Europe. Cleanflow Systems is one of many new businesses nurtured in Massey’s business innovation centre, the ecentre, and most of its engineers and product designers are Massey graduates.