Frequently asked questions

Find answers to common questions about the New Zealand Engineering Science Competition.

What is Engineering Science?

In Engineering Science, we use computers to solve real-life problems. This requires being able to communicate well with a lot of different people, such as managers, engineers and mathematicians.

We set ourselves up to solve big questions, such as:

  • How can a forest be managed and continue to make profit, while also remaining environmentally-friendly?
  • How should an airline organise crew, airplanes and all of the their complex resources while also keeping operating costs low, and avoiding travel delays?
  • How do we design sails that will continue to work in low wind conditions?

Sound interesting? We look for the following qualities in Engineering Science students:

  • Logical and analytical thinking skills, with a strong mathematics/physics background: These skills enable you to develop mathematical models of real-life applications.
  • An affinity for computers: Most of our modelling is done with the help of computers.
  • Strong communication skills: We don't just sit in front of a computer all day. We frequently work with people who are not familiar with mathematical modelling or who come from different areas of expertise such as scientists, engineers, business owners and analysts. We therefore need to be able to communicate our ideas to people with differing levels of knowledge about the modelling we are doing. Also, we need to understand other people's needs and then translate this into a model that works for them.

Team logistics

Can Year 10 and 11 students enter?

The competition is aimed at Year 12 and 13 students. If year 10 or 11 students wish to take part as part of a team we recommend that they be doing at least one Year 12 or 13 maths or science subject. We do not supply easier questions to teams made up of younger students – a single question will be supplied and all teams will be required to answer the same question.

Is it possible to make a team of students from different schools? Eg, two students from one school and two from another?

Sorry but all members must come from the same school.

Is more than one team per school allowed to compete?
Yes. There are no limits to the numbers of teams who may compete per school.

How many people can be in a team?
Not less than three, and not more than four.

Can I be the teacher for more than one team?

  • Being in charge of more than one team is perfectly fine. You would need to help the teams organise where they are going to work on the day. 
  • You can’t help them with the actual project on Competition Day and the teams shouldn’t be communicating with each other. Otherwise, there is no problem with you entering multiple teams.

What is the Team ID Number and what is it for?

  • Each team will be emailed an ID number once entries close.
  • You will put this on the cover of your report. 
  • Your report should not mention your school name or any team member's names.
  • The competition administrator will be the only person who keeps a database of team details and ID numbers. 
  • The judges will only see ID numbers on the reports they are judging.

What happens if one (or more) of our team members pulls out?

  • If one of your team members pulls out due to illness or unavailability, you may replace them if you can find a suitable replacement in time.
  • The details of the replacement person (and who they are replacing) will need to be forwarded to the competition administrator, along with a statement signed by the replacement to indicate that they have read the rules and agree to abide by them.
  • In the event that someone pulls out on the day and you cannot source a replacement, your team may still compete with those students who are present but no special allowance will be made if your team has fewer than three members.
  • If your school has multiple teams it may be possible to reshuffle your teams to deal with a missing person (for example, if there are two teams who both end up with only two people showing on the day, you may be able to combine the remaining four people into one team). If you wish to reshuffle people into different teams you will need to contact the competition organiser before any reshuffle to check that this is allowed.

Competition tasks

Who do we contact if we have problems downloading the question document or uploading the final report?
The competition's administration team will be contactable on competition day. Call us at 09 923 3014.

Are there copies of questions from previous years?
Questions, judges' reports, and winning entries are available to view on the 'Results' page

Is there a suggested question that may get the students thinking to the correct sort of level?
The question will be quite open-ended, and require some basic mathematical modeling skills, coupled with problem solving and report presentation abilities. The topic chosen will be one of a broad nature – the students will have heard something about it and will readily be able to research on the web.

Instructions state that only freely available resources can be used. Does this include resources from school subjects such as textbooks and other classroom resources?
School resources would be fine as long as they also exist in other publicly accessible places. The rationale for this is that the judges need to have the ability to check on any resources which you include in your references.

Are there any mathematical modelling resources we can use to find the right type of model for real life?

  • Mathematical Modelling is just a process where you use mathematical equations to approximate some real-world occurrence. This might simply be an exponential growth equation or it might be a system containing a large number of complex equations.
  • We don’t expect you to study any particular models in advance. You will already know enough maths to be able to investigate the particular scenario to be given you on competition day.

Is there a typical format used in the engineering sciences when making reports?

  • Yes, we do have particular standards for report writing within the Faculty of Engineering, but for this competition you should just follow the instructions on the competition website. Beyond that, decide on your own report style. It should be well written and clearly laid out.
  • We also recommend that you submit your entries in PDF format.
  • The final document should also only contain the Team's ID Number and no other characters (e.g. '1105.pdf').

Can our teams use the EPIC database?
Although EPIC requires you to login, using it is fine as it is freely available to any NZ school who wants access to it. If you do not already have access to the EPIC database, your school can register for access.