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An engineering career adds up for young Aboriginal students

13 January 2016
A summer school gives aspiring engineers a head-start
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Visits to private and public engineering companies are one of the opportunities offered by the Indigenous Australian Engineering Summer School, established in 1998. 

Credit: David Lawrey.

Zephy Martin, a student at Cape York’s Djarragun College is one of a group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander students attending the prestigious Indigenous Australian Engineering Summer School (IAESS) being held this week at the University of Sydney.

The 15-year-old, who loves the progressive logic of maths and is currently completing a Certificate II Engineering Pathways at his high school in northern Queensland, says he is eager to experience the different types of engineering careers available as well as meeting Indigenous students from other areas of Australia.

“I’ve never left the Cairns area before so this is a great experience for me.”

I’ve been told when I was a small boy I was more interested in how a toy worked than actually just playing with it. Taking it apart and putting it back together.

“Having an opportunity to visit engineering labs and talk with engineers is fantastic.”

Also from the Cape York region is Gladys Hughes who attends St Monica’s College.

“I love maths and I love solving problems. Engineering is a career that requires you to solve problems of real life situations and improve the world we live in,” says 16-year-old Gladys.

Mr Keiran Passmore, Executive Director, Engineering Sydney at the University says the annual IAESS program provides Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander high school students from across the country with an insight into the extensive career choices available to engineering graduates.

“One of the hands-on activities this year allows students to create synthetic skull bone using 3D printers in the Faculty of Engineering’s cutting-edge Implant Design and Manufacture laboratory,” says Mr Passmore.

Student attendees will take part in hands-on activities including biomedical 3D printing and robotics programming and coding. They will also go on site visits to both public and private engineering companies.

Established in 1998 by Engineering Aid Australia the Indigenous Australian Engineering Summer School is conducted by Australian universities with engineering faculties sharing the job of hosting the program with the University of Sydney taking the helm for the past five years. 

Victoria Hollick

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