Brevity Engineer, Devante Puiri-Tuia, grew up just down the road from Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate in Otara, Auckland. When the opportunity arose to take part in the Wonder Project, Devante was quick to put his hand up for his local school.

The Wonder Project is a programme run by Engineering NZ giving Kiwi kids a taste of how science, technology and maths are used in the real world. Devante and fellow Brevity engineer Chrismagne Elikana delivered the rocket building module to two classes of primary school children at Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate.

Devante found the kids immediately identified with him. “They saw me as a Samoan guy who lives down the road and went to school in the area. They also saw me as a Pacific Island Engineer.” He loved the way they enjoyed asking him questions in Samoan and were comfortable asking him anything – from what it is like being an engineer to what his favourite food is (the answer to which is “nothing like a home cooked meal”).

The project involved making rockets out of plastic bottles with the grand finale involving launching them from the school field. The class worked in groups designing a rocket, decorating it and fine-tuning it before launch day. Devante says “I enjoyed seeing their reactions when I gave them advice on how to improve their rockets and how determined they were to make the best one ever.”

Devante worked with the class teacher Ms Seve, who provided him the support he needed to deliver the rocket module. She kept it flexible so Devante could work around his Brevity work schedule.

On launch day, the kids organized themselves into their groups and with each person responsible for preparing different parts of the rocket. With safety gear on, rockets were filled with water, loaded into the launcher and primed. A total of 6 rockets were launched amongst much cheering and excitement. Some rockets flew high, some flew far but ultimately they all flew further than expected. Following the launch, the students shared how much they enjoyed the Wonder project and were really grateful receiving prizes for the best performing and best designed rockets.

Devante says “ I wanted to be able to give back some time to the kids in my community, so when I saw Sir Edmund Hillary as an option to do the Wonder Project, there was no second thought on choosing them.” The opportunity certainly delivered, he loved every minute of it and so did the class. Watch this space, there could be a number of talented engineers coming through from Sir Edmund Hilary Collegiate in the coming years.