They did not really know what they were in for when they competed in the EPro8 Challenge in Whanganui last month but the St Anne's team took home the trophy and tonight they will compete in the regional final in Palmerston North.

EPro8 is an engineering and problem-solving race devised by former Whanganui man Kelvin Thiele to provide young competitors with "what would have been my dream event to enter when I was 11-years-old".

3D printers may not have been around when Mr Thiele was 11, but he uses one to create all the components for the challenges and has turned his dream into a national competition.

"The pieces are a bit like giant meccano and you have to work as a team to find out how they should go together," said St Anne's team member Natalya Ross.


Teams of four have two-and-a-half hours to complete six challenges in building and construction, invention, vehicle construction, electronics, problem-solving and experimentation.

"We were also marked on how tidy we kept our work stations," said St Anne's team member Jenna-Jade Lacy.

Each work station contains an assortment of easy to use equipment, including gears, wheels, pulleys, weights, tools, aluminium framing, motors and electronics.

The teams work together to select the right equipment and fit them together to build a bridge, a "moon rover" vehicle with gearbox, an electronically wired safe, a set of scales, a bungy jump for a 1kg weight and a contraption that removes toast from a toaster and puts it on a plate.

The St Anne's team said it was was great to work co-operatively to find the best ways of completing the challenges and exciting to see themselves in the lead on the electronic score board.

"Every time you complete a challenge, you push a big red button and your song will play so the judge knows to come to your work station," said Riki.

The challenges in the finals series require more problem-solving , challenging teams to think harder.