In current alert levels, planned work will only continue if there is an urgent safety or reliability issue & where customer impact is minimized.

 

Inspiring Young Minds

Community Innovation
Over the last decade, employment in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) occupations has grown at a considerably faster rate compared to other non-STEM professions, 24.4% vs 4.0% respectively1

While this growth is set to continue, many countries including New Zealand are experiencing skill shortages in these sectors2. Steps are being taken to overcome this imbalance, but there’s still a lot to be done to raise the profile of STEM careers among students and to boost awareness and understanding of the opportunities within these areas3. 
Our greatest natural resource is the minds of our children.

Walt Disney

Future in Tech works specifically to increase the number of young New Zealanders choosing careers in technology, engineering and science and has voluntary ambassadors from all areas who speak to students about what they do, bringing the job title to life. 

Cheryl Frankis, an asset performance engineer here at Vector, is involved in this programme and through it has had many opportunities to show her support for the sector, from helping to judge the science and technology fair, to mentoring a school team taking part in the Tiaki Expo. Cheryl has also been actively involved in Connexis, encouraging women to get involved in the sector as they are still hugely under represented.

I caught up with Cheryl recently to talk about her voluntary mentoring experience through Future in Tech.

5 QUICK-FIRE QUESTIONS WITH CHERYL: 

WHY DO YOU THINK IT’S IMPORTANT TO BE INVOLVED WITH RAISING AWARENESS OF CAREERS IN STEM? 
STEM touches every part of our lives. The professions that build communities and transform nations are all based on STEM and that is why I think it is important to raise awareness of STEM careers. To succeed in this highly technological and information based society, STEM is necessary and I encourage students to push themselves so they can continue to develop their capabilities in this area.

WHAT DID YOUR MENTORING ROLE THROUGH FUTURE IN TECH INVOLVE? 
Over a period of 12 weeks, I mentored 16 students from Aorere College. They were tasked to come up with a technological solution with a sustainable focus which would then be judged against 10 other schools at the Tiaki Expo. 

WHAT DID YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING INVOLVED? 
Watching the progression of the kids as they became more interested and enthusiastic about the project. It was also a great opportunity to help them develop other skills such as project management and increase their knowledge about related areas. I arranged for a few other engineers and Vector employees to come and speak to them about various topics relevant to the industry, such as renewable energy, sustainability and EVs.

FAVOURITE MOMENT? 
There were quite a few, but one of the best was watching one of the quieter members of the group grow in confidence throughout the whole experience, right up to the point when he volunteered himself to be one of three to present the idea and answer the Q and As on stage at the Tiaki Expo. 

WOULD YOU DO IT AGAIN? 
Yes absolutely – I just wish there had been similar opportunities like this for us when we were growing up! 

ANYTHING YOU’VE TAKEN AWAY FROM THE EXPERIENCE? 
One of the team presenting the idea at the expo got up on stage and completely unprompted said “It doesn’t matter if we win or lose because we’ve learnt so much” – that was pretty exciting to hear and also something that’s very relevant for us all! 


At Vector, inspiring and educating communities about technology and innovation is central to our vision of creating a new energy future and there are a number of initiatives we’re proud to be involved in. Sponsorship of the Vector EPro8 Challenge in Auckland schools this year has been hugely successful with over 2,200 students taking part in a wide range of engineering and problem solving challenges. Our Schools Safety Programme continues to grow and this year the team visited thirty-six schools, and talked to 7,619 students. 
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The Aorere College students and Cheryl with their solar project
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Cheryl takes some of the students on a site visit to the Tesla Powerpack battery storage system at Glen Innes
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The Vector stand at the Tiaki Expo 2017
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Showcasing the Vector Tesla at the Tiaki Expo
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Presentations and awards at the Tiako Expo
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A busy stand as everyone gives the virtual reality headsets a go.
It’s super important that we continue to train and push science and technology forward.

Brian Ryan, Group General Manager of Development, Vector

Sources: 
1.    STEM jobs: 2017 Update, U.S. Department of Commerce Economics and Statistics Administration http://www.esa.doc.gov/sites/default/files/stem-jobs-2017-update.pdf
2.    Hays, Tackling the shortage of STEM skills – is early intervention the solution? https://www.hays.net.nz/press-releases/HAYS_1309282 
3.    Future in Tech Annual Report 2016 https://www.futureintech.org.nz/documents/Futureintech-annual-report-2016.pdf 


 
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