Engineering a future
16 January 2013
Horn Island off Australia's Cape York Peninsula is a long way from Sydney, but two students from the tiny Far North Queensland Island have made the 2,750-kilometre trip to be part of the Indigenous Australian Engineering Summer School (IAESS) at the University of Sydney, running from 13 to 19 January.
The boys, who travel by ferry each day to Thursday Island to attend Tagai State College, say it is their lifelong dream to become engineers.
Seventeen-year-old Anton Solomon says he wanted to attend this year's IAESS to get a better idea of which area of engineering he would like to pursue. His friend and travel companion Paul Murde has his sights set on becoming a mechanical engineer.
Both are also attracted to the idea of meeting real-life engineers who can guide them on what the profession holds and getting a better understanding of university life during the week-long program.
"My strongest subjects at school are maths and English. I love maths and it will bring me closer to my goal of becoming an engineer," says Paul.
Anton hopes the epic journey will translate into a life-changing experience that will help guide him with his engineering study choices.
While others enjoy their holidays swimming and fishing Paul and Anton spend their time repairing outboard motors, trucks or dirt bikes.
The boys and their fellow students will spend the week visiting engineering sites such as Garden Island Naval Base, NSW Roads and Maritime Services, and Qantas. They will also partake in hands-on engineering workshops at the University, such as building prosthetic legs and operating robotic arms.
NSW Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and for Citizenship and Communities, Victor Dominello, will join industry representatives to speak with students about their career options in engineering and the importance of building capacity in the community.
Senior lecturer at the School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering and academic overseer of this year's program, Dr Douglass Auld, says the school gives students an indication of the level of dedication and study required to become an engineer. "Students need to keep up their maths and science if they want to be an engineer."
The IAESS runs in January each year. Australian universities with engineering faculties share the job of hosting it with the University of Sydney taking the helm this year and in 2012. Hosting the IAESS forms part of a continuing program at the University to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students interested in engineering.
Established in 1998 by Engineering Aid Australia, the annual IAESS introduces Year 11 and 12 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from across Australia to engineering and the wide range of opportunities an engineering degree offers.
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