• Media release
  • 24 May 2022
  • 4 min read

Genesis School-gen supports robotics team to World Championships

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Andrew Balme, Genesis Engineer with Rotorua Primary School robotics team
Andrew Balme, Genesis Engineer with Rotorua Primary School robotics team

Watch the video to this story here.

A school robotics team has received a much-needed financial boost toward their trip to the world championships from Genesis School-gen, and some tips from one of our engineers.

The team from Rotorua Primary School got in touch with Genesis after reading about our trial of a submersible ROV (Remote Operated Vehicle) through a hydro tunnel in the Tongariro Power Scheme.

They had just come first-equal in the Intermediate division of the New Zealand Aquabot Championships, and were hastily fundraising to get to the United States in time for the world championships in June. Similar to our submersible ROV, their aquabot had to navigate an underwater obstacle course, picking up and delivering objects within a certain time.

Genesis’ Chief Customer Officer, Tracey Hickman, who also oversees our School-gen programme and sponsorships, said the alignment between the school’s success, Genesis’ technology and innovation and our School-gen programme was inspiring.

"School-gen aims to support the energy innovators of the future by empowering students with science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) learning opportunities,” said Tracey. “These students have displayed impressive skills in winning the New Zealand aquabot competition – we’re very happy to support them in representing Aotearoa overseas."

In addition to a donation to the team’s fundraising efforts, Genesis arranged for engineer Andrew Balme to visit the Year 7 and 8 students at school. He took with him one of our submersible ROVs to compare with the team’s aquabot, pass on some tips and tricks in its operation, and talk about the career pathways open to the students. Genesis also gifted a robotics kit to the school to benefit future cohorts of students.

Gifted robotics kit from Genesis to Rotorua Primary School
Gifted robotics kit from Genesis to Rotorua Primary School

Genesis’ use of submersible ROVs to inspect hydro tunnels is an example of the company’s investment in technology to improve safety and performance. In the past, inspections of tunnels up to 19km long involved draining them before driving a team through to take photos in dim light, with complex communication systems to ensure the inspection teams were safe. Now, submersible ROV’s can travel the length of the tunnels taking photos and 3D sonar recordings, mapping the tunnels’ interior and gathering detailed data. The technology will also significantly reduce local power station outages.

"We hope to encourage students into STEM careers by showing them the kind of real-world challenges they could help solve by applying this kind of technology,” said Tracey. “If we can channel their creative thinking into sectors like ours the world will be a better place."

Andrew said the similarities between the two robots was fascinating. “The students’ aquabot had the same parts as ours, just at a different scale."

Andrew Balme, Genesis Engineer testing underwater equipment with robotics team
Andrew Balme, Genesis Engineer testing underwater equipment with robotics team

"I'm very impressed with what they’ve built, and think they’ll do really well. I hope I was able to pass on a couple of tips to give them a better chance at the world champs. To see kids this young given this opportunity is really special."

"We’d love to see them working in the energy sector in future; if they end up working for Genesis one day that would be awesome."

Teacher Layla Rask said the school was overwhelmed by the support the team had received from the community and companies like Genesis.

“We’re just so thankful for the financial support, and to have an engineer visit us to spend time with the team is invaluable,” said Layla. “It will boost the team’s confidence for the competition, and open their eyes to the kinds of career opportunities this could lead to.”

The students will compete at Maryland University against 50 schools and more than 150 teams from around the world.

Media contact


Estelle Sarney


External Communications Manager



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