Auckland's Martin Peat wins engineer award for work on Rio Olympics
A New Zealand man has won an award for his work to ensure Rio Olympic spectators get to their venues on time.
Beca's Martin Peat, 30, has been a transport engineer for seven years and already predicted pedestrian movements for three Olympic games, London in 2012, Sochi in 2014 and this year's event in Rio.
His job is about problem solving how people get from A to B - where security needs to be, should there be more pedestrian crossings, road closure times, and the important question of how big will the queues be for food and beverage stands.
"The aim is to predict how people will move ... because when it goes wrong, it goes really wrong," he said.
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A case in point was the opening of the 2011 Rugby World Cup in Auckland, when ticket holders were delayed by public transport problems. That was not one of Peat's projects, but some of his Beca colleagues were called upon to help set it right.
He was hand-picked for the Rio job after his work in London and has been living in the Brazilian city for a year, liaising with other engineers in New Zealand.
Most of the media was focused on the Zika outbreak and some political problems, but the Olympics were starting to feature on the radar.
"Some of the organising teams are moving into their venues and we are changing from identifying how things should be done to starting to put them in place."
He had been to trial events at some of the venues, including watching some Kiwi athletes in action on the canoe course.
It was not his first time in the city. He was part of the team that figured out logistics for Pope Francis' visit in 2013, when about 2 million people packed Copacabana beach to hear a mass for the Catholic Church's World Youth Day celebrations.
At a ceremony in Wellington on Friday, the Auckland University engineering science graduate was awarded the Institution for Professional Engineers Young Engineer of the Year award for his Rio work and his involvement in the FutureinTech programme that highlighted pathways into different technology roles for school kids.
"Some of my mentors received awards or were recognised as fellows tonight, and it's a privilege to be among them," he said.
He couldn't reveal much about his work on the Rio games, but said in London his team's predictions resulted in a temporary bridge being built near one of the stadiums.
"We had to get 20,000 to 50,000 people across a very busy road and closing that road wasn't an option. The only solution was to build a bridge across, which worked well."
The only down side about living in Rio was that he wasn't a big football fan, but he enjoyed the availability of meat and the city's parks.
In New Zealand Peat has been involved in the organisation for the Cricket World Cup, Volvo Ocean Race and Wellington's Anzac week celebrations including crowd predictions for the dawn service at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park.
IPENZ chief executive Susan Freeman-Greene said the awards were a way of recognising the work of top engineers that often went unnoticed.
"These are (engineers) whose work raises the bar for the engineering industry at large."