Live-in program inspires future engineers

Friday, 17 January, 2020

Live-in program inspires future engineers

This week, 25 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from years 10, 11 and 12 have attended a one-week program at the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Engineering to learn key skills and meet experts from diverse engineering fields including robotics, biomedical, wind and transportation.

The Indigenous Australian Engineering School is an event established by Engineering Aid Australia that provides educational opportunities to Aboriginal and Torres Strait high school students. The event has been run at the University of Sydney for the past 10 years.

“Our goal is to encourage and inspire more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to pursue a career in engineering,” academic coordinator and humanitarian engineer Dr Petr Matous said.

“Students are participating in hands-on workshops and touring top technology and infrastructure firms such as Arup and Google to discover the diverse careers that a degree in engineering can lead to.”

Dr Matous said the aim of the program is to increase the diversity of the engineering profession.

“A discipline that doesn’t include all sections of society is at risk of not serving everyone well. Engineers are among the most valuable resources a community can have: they create public good by building key infrastructure, life-saving technologies and protecting society from increasingly frequent disasters,” he said.

“They are also vital to the growth and sustainability of our communities. We believe that the engineering profession needs more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with a good understanding of the needs of local communities and a strong connection to the land to lead infrastructure projects in remote areas as well urban centres.

“Since its inception, one-third of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders entering engineering degrees at the University of Sydney have participated in the Indigenous Australian Engineering School.

“Other participants of the program have gone on to study at universities closer to home or decided to pursue a TAFE qualification, which we consider to be great outcomes as well,” he concluded.

Student Eden Strickland is attending this year’s program and said the opportunity has given her guidance into the next chapter of her life.

“This experience has inspired and motivated me to push through my last year of schooling and conquer the task of gaining a university degree, so one day I can be a leader, not only for my local communities, but for the engineering industry,” said Eden. “As an Indigenous person I feel as though it is our duty to fulfil what was left for us. To work together and create sustainable resources to not only help small and large communities but the Earth.”

Alumni of the school include University of Sydney engineering student Courtney Ryder, who has just submitted her doctoral dissertation and said that the program was a “transformative experience” in shaping her career aspirations.

Students who attend and complete the program will qualify for an Engineering Aid Australia Continuing School scholarship, which assists with education expenses in Years 10, 11 and 12.

Image: The 2020 cohort for the Indigenous Australian Engineering School with Professor Willy Zwaenepoel, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering.

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