New Zealand Engineering Science Competition by Nick Biggin

New Zealand Engineering Science Competition

In August, two teams competed in the New Zealand Engineering Science Competition.

This competition is an annual problem solving event where teams of 4 are given 6 hours to answer a very open ended modelling question. This year the question was: “How many 1 in 100 year extreme weather events can NZ expect to experience over the course of the next decade?”. This question required us to discuss and determine what exactly counted as a '1 in 100 year' extreme weather event, changes in the climate in the next decade (there are hundreds of models, each relying on different measurements and assuming different amounts of anthropogenic emissions). 

We applied statistical methods, numerical modelling, and extreme googling to write a report to discuss our answer. We accessed historical data from weather stations around New Zealand back to the early 20th century, trying to establish a baseline for how likely certain events are to occur, then figure out, given the expected changes, how likely that same event would be to occur over the next 10 years. The team involving Marcus, Odin, Jasper, and Linus got the answer of "most likely 1", while the team involving Bill, Elia, and Liam did not reach an answer.

Thanks to the Science and Maths departments for their support on the day.