An engineer is a modern problem solver

News News & events

14 Nov 2019

“An engineer is essentially a modern problem solver and we certainly need professional problem solvers in the world today. The skills that you have learnt at Ara and are taking with you will contribute to solving problems in the world.” – Michael Edmonds, Head of Department Engineering and Architectural Studies

If your father is a boat builder and engineer, your grandparents are engineers and your brother is finishing his PhD in Engineering – what is the logical step you take to get started in the workforce? Correct – you become an engineer yourself and you base your interest/projects around water sport.

Last night, at Ara’s annual Engineering Showcase, Andrew Murton was proudly standing next to his sleek, tall and red hydrofoil, one of the projects that easily catches Kahukura building visitors’ eyes.

“I probably put around 500 hours into this project but I really enjoyed building this hydrofoil. It enabled me to use all the knowledge I’ve learned and create something that is usable.”


Andrew Murton is proud of his hydrofoil project at the annual Engineering showcase. 

Murton’s project consists of the testing and development of foiling kite boards. His focus was on the composite structure that makes up the mast which joins the hydrofoils to the main surfboard.

“Basically imagine it as an airplane wing but under water. They are made to go on all different things like surfboards, paddle boards, kitesurfing and other set ups. I wanted to make boards faster and more efficient if you race them.”

After Murton tried to create a hydrofoil in his spare time last summer but didn’t have the right products he needed to keep going with it, he approached his tutors who set him up with a client.

“It was perfect timing for me to come on board. The client was great. He supplied me with all the products he wanted me to test. Phase 1 was just simply testing all his products and comparing them,” said Murton.

The testing system that he developed can accurately compare the structural stiffness of different masts and give valuable data to develop the shape and internal structure of the mast.

Murton wants to continue working on the hydrofoil to make more improvements.


Showing off skills and projects

At the Engineering showcase industry professionals were able to view Murton’s as well as 34 other student projects and chat with the budding engineers.

Thomas Cronje, Senior Academic Staff member in the Engineering Department, said the event was a great success for the students and that industry is frequently very complimentary on what’s going on at Ara.

“We consider this final year project the main part of the degree. If the students have a successful outcome of their project, they can easily sell that to industry when they go to job interviews. They can take along their reports and what they’ve built to show future employers.”

He also said that 2019 had the most students that were ever enrolled in this project course. In total, 42 students were part of it and 40 exhibited their work.

And while he added that the average quality of the projects exceeded ones from the past, it is still a great achievement for the third years to receive one of three awards on the night.

Tim Buchanan won the Best Degree Project 2019 for Electrical. He developed a semiconductor curve tracer which can be used to characterise semiconductor components like transistor, for example it can determine values for current gain (hFE) and can assist with determining a device’s operating point. It can also be used to detect counterfeit components, to match transistors and to troubleshoot faulty electronic circuits.


Tim Buchanan received his certificate for Best Degree Project 2019 for Electrical at the Engineering Showcase. 

James McArthur won the Best Degree Project 2019 for Mechanical. For his project he analysed the aerodynamic performance of a track car, which is still in development. This project was in conjunction with Rodin cars, a company that manufactures high performance cars in New Zealand.


James McArthur's project, the analysis of the aerodynamic performance of a track car, won him Best Degree Project 2019 for Mechanical.   

For the Best Degree Project 2019 in Civil Engineering the group project by Ryan Johnson (mechanical engineering student) and Rebecca Tinga (civil engineering student) was chosen. It is a design and build project during which a prototype electro-coagulation unit, to treat washing machine effluent, was created.


Ryan Johnson and Rebecca Tinga worked as a team on their project and were awarded Best Degree Project 2019 in Civil Engineering. 

There was also an Industry Choice Best Project 2019 award which was handed over to Jinfeng Lin. In his project, Jinfeng Lin utilised ETABS structural analysis software to compare the performance of Conventional Braced Frames (CBFs) and equivalent Buckling-Restrained Braced Frame (BRBF) under Nonlinear Dynamic Analysis (NDA). He developed the ETABS model incorporating the BRB system and used the ground motion data recorded in 2011 Christchurch earthquake at eight stations to simulate the earthquake action on the frame.


Jinfeng Lin impressed industry professionals, who attended the Engineering Showcase, with his project. 

Ara’s CE Tony Gray congratulated all students on their success and said the engineering showcase is a wonderful example of the work the students do here at Ara

“Tonight is a combination of three years of study, showing off the synthesis of learning and ideas and its application to a complete project that will most likely mirror what our graduates are most likely going to experience during their first couple of years when they are out in the workforce.”