Former Te Awamutu College student Bert Downs is the excellence winner of the academic category in the Waipā Youth Awards.

Last year, as a Year 12 student, Bert was named Te Awamutu College 2019 Dux Litterarum — the school's top academic student.

The 17-year-old passed NCEA levels 2 and 3 with excellence and was first in class in digital technologies, electronics, calculus, accounting and physics (all NCEA Level 3). He also received an NZQA Scholarship award for physics and technology.

Bert won the senior category for the nationwide Skills Bright Sparks competition for young inventors.

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He also found time to give back to Te Awamutu College, volunteering as an academic mentor to other students in a number of his classes and was also involved in the school's senior band, the school council and was the chairman of the Hokioi Committee (school magazine).

Bert won two University of Waikato scholarships – a Computer Science Undergraduate Scholarship and the Ko Te Tangata School Leaver Scholarship.

He is now studying software engineering at the University of Waikato.

Te Awamutu College principal Tony Membery says Bert is an exceptionally talented student.

"Bert excels at logical reasoning and critical thinking, often making connections with everything that he does.

"He has outstanding ability to absorb and process information. Bert is also able to apply his abilities creatively, especially in the area of electronics.

"Bert has been commended on his open-mindedness and ability to challenge new ideas and concepts. His critical thinking skills has allowed him to reach excellence across his subjects and gain the highest academic award of Te Awamutu College, Dux Litterarum 2019, as a Year 12 student.

"Furthermore, he has been commended for his talent and amazing work in the technology fields."

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He also described Bert as an extremely personable young man with an excellent sense of humour.

"Bert is a kind, considerate person who is the epitome of reliability, respect and trustworthiness."