YOUNG ENGINEERS: Maclean High students Jack Rollings, Caitlin McInnes, Linken Coram and Jonah Menzes were all smiles ahead of the launcher challenge.
YOUNG ENGINEERS: Maclean High students Jack Rollings, Caitlin McInnes, Linken Coram and Jonah Menzes were all smiles ahead of the launcher challenge. Jackie Munro

Students tackle engineering challenges

FROM constructing a ping pong ball launcher made from rubber bands and a plastic bottle, to experiments involving vibration control, high school students participated in a one-day program to learn more about engineering.

Budding engineers took part in Southern Cross University'sYoung Engineers programto get a feel for what an engineering career would involve.

SCU lecturer Dr Habib Habibullah said 20 students from schools across the North Coast descended on the university for a day of hands-on experience.

"The program was started to try to encourage students to pursue a career in engineering,” he said.

"Engineering plays a role in every single thing in life, from our technology to our structures and even civil engineering such as roads and bridges. There is a real demand for engineers, and we expect this demand to become even greater into the future.”

Dr Habibullah said there are predictions for the need for more than 20,000 engineers in the near future, however there are currently only around 8000 engineering students in study as a whole.

"With such a gap like that, there is a real demand to get more students engaged and interested in engineering,” he said.

The students, from Years 9-12, were able to inspect SCU's engineering labs with running equipment and machinery, perform experiments, learn about research being conducted, and ultimately develop an understanding of the importance of engineering in the world.

"We offered the students the chance to participate in different activities using their science knowledge they have learned in school in a physical task,” Dr Habibullah said.

Split into six teams, the students were tasked to construct a parachute-like design to safely air drop a raw egg.

For the second task, teams were asked to design and construct a ping pong ball launcher capable of knocking down a tower of cups.

Casino High School student, Nadine Jacobs is in Year 12 and is already aiming to become a university professor teaching in the mathematics field.

She said has a "massive passion for mathematics and science” and enjoyed getting to explore the university and participate in fun practical activities.

She said the program's activities had "really challenged” the way she thought and said it wasn't a hard decision to sacrifice one of her school vacation days to the program.

"I'm always studying every day and always looking to learn as much as I can, so getting to do this was so much fun,” she said.



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