14 June 2016

David Farrier

Making the lights go on

Make the World - Levi

Make the World dynamic. Beautiful. Sustainable. A new campaign is telling the stories of people, like Levi Martin GIPENZ, who have chosen a career in engineering and now make the world.

When Christchurch’s temporary sports stadium lit up in 2012, it was hailed a spectacular success. “Truly heartening” said Earthquake Recovery Minister, the Hon Gerry Brownlee. “Spectacular” said Christchurch Stadium Trust’s Jim Anderton.

But perhaps even happier during those first few games was electrical engineer Levi Martin GIPENZ, watching on from the sidelines. A recent graduate with a Bachelor in Engineering Technology, he’d been directly involved in getting the stadium up and running.

“It was fun, because you never realise how much design goes into making something like that work,” he says. “At one stage they had about 1,000 people working on it, crawling over each other.” Levi’s role was key: to light the whole thing up. Literally. “We had to make sure the stadium was all completely uniformly lit,” he says. “Not just for those in the stands: Sky was shooting down there, and they had to have the right lighting to broadcast live video. We also designed the emergency lighting system to guide people to safety”.

Proudly of Ngai Tahu descent, Levi feels a deep connection to the region. “This was my ancestor’s home, it’s my home, and it’s my future generations’ home,” he says. “I feel a great sense of worth of being able to give something back to my community”. As a child, Levi was always drawn to electricity. “You couldn’t see it,” he laughs. “I loved that. When I was a kid I was into slot sets, and remote control cars. And we had Lego and K’Nex, and I got motor add-ons which made it so much better.” Before he knew it, he was doing night courses while still at school so he could become a sparky. But he wanted more.

As he began studying towards a Bachelor in Engineering Technology, Levi became increasingly fascinated by the electrical systems that made things tick. “Me and another student made an electric go-kart, out of an old Fisher & Paykel washing machine. You know those Smart Drives? Well, we took one of those out of a washing machine and rewired it.” During his final year of study, a project saw him analysing the lighting systems in a giant industrial warehouse. Thanks to his findings, not only did he make the lighting efficient, but CO2 emissions were lowered at the same time.

Now working as a commissioning engineer, the projects he works on are wide and varied. Recently he found himself working in rural hospitals in Kaikoura and Rangiora, both of which held special significance for him. “I grew up in Rangiora for 13 years, and have whakapapa back to Kaikoura, and still have family up there,” he says.

Most people see problems as burdens – something to be avoided at all costs. But with the mind and philosophy of an engineer, Levi embraces them. “Engineering encompasses creativity,” he says. “You are given the problem, but not the solution. And the solution you find is for the benefit of mankind.”

The way he sees it, engineers make the world.

Make the World

Make the World is Engineering Education-to-Employment’s nationwide awareness campaign. It will raise engineering’s profile and get young people to take another look and consider it as a career option. It will challenge old views and stereotypes of what engineering is about, and shine the spotlight on the New Zealand Diploma in Engineering and Bachelor of Engineering Technology qualifications. The campaign features real engineering stories and celebrates achievements that are not normally known as having engineering at their heart.

See more of the campaign

This article featured in our June/July issue of Engineering Insight, delivered to IPENZ Members. Not a member? Learn about the benefits of becoming one