Students solving connectivity issues

A blog from Sarah George, Communications Advisor at InternetNZ
14 July 2017

The first week of the school holidays saw 30 Taranaki students take on solving Internet connectivity issues in their own backyard.

Students from New Plymouth Girls’ High School and New Plymouth Boys’ High School spent three days at the Project Wi-Finding workshop learning about networking essentials, protocols and addresses, signal strength, traffic and security. 

With InternetNZ sponsoring $3,000 for the workshop, I headed along for day one where the students learnt all the basic essentials for creating and maintaining strong wireless networks.

Taking a hands-on approach, the students used Vistumbler, an open source Wi-Fi scanner, to walk around the school grounds identifying wireless black spots and areas of low signal in the Boys’ High School Wi-Fi network. Using the results from their investigation and the knowledge of how wireless technologies work, the students made recommendations to the school about how to improve connectivity. 

Day three of the workshop included a field trip to Primo Wireless who were a major partner in the event. Students saw how the technology they had been playing with applies on a larger scale and how the network is setup to reach across the Taranaki region.

The project aims to use the Boys High School investigation as a starting point to encourage students to think about how we can continue to solve connectivity issues in Taranaki.

Students reasons for attending included keeping options open after finishing high school, understanding that the future of work is tech based and want to start learning now, wanting to study various streams of engineering after school and being frustrated when Wi-Fi doesn’t work but would like to understand why.

Others had come from countries with more limited access to technology and wanted to explore further what technology had to offer.

The workshop was taught by Dr Faraz Hasan, a senior lecturer at Massey University. “This project is an excellent opportunity for the students to train themselves with the current methods used in wireless networking, and use them to solve a real life problem” says Hasan. 

New Plymouth Girls’ High School Year 13 student Petra Sorensen was excited to be able to participate in the workshop. “It’s been an awesome opportunity and heaps of fun. I didn’t know anything about this topic before coming in today and have already learnt a wide range of things.”

The workshop is part of the Curious Minds Participatory Science Platform, which aims to encourage New Zealanders to get involved in science and technology.

InternetNZ is proud to be able to sponsor events and workshops like this. We are privileged to be part of educating students about tech and improving Internet access in New Zealand. 

More information on our sponsorship opportunities is available here: https://internetnz.nz/sponsorship