Science and Engineering Challenge
Secondary school students use engineering skills in annual contest

Up-and-coming scientists and engineers from Suzanne Cory High School in Werribee emerged victorious in Victoria University’s annual Science and Engineering Challenge for secondary school students.

While about 120 students in Year 9 and Year 10 from Melbourne’s west built bridges from balsa wood, bionic hands with PVC pipes and straws, and vehicle suspension systems from elastic bands, they demonstrated their knowledge of science principles and showed teamwork in action.

“This is an incredible event for us and a way of engaging young students so they consider a future in this area,” said Professor Farzad Khosrowshahi, Dean of VU’s College of Engineering and Science.

“Engineering and science is here to solve people’s problems, and everything we do in life is connected to it.”

Every year, more than 35,000 students across Australia take part in the day-long challenge featuring eight different projects. The Challenge's main aim is to address the skills shortage in science and engineering by inspiring young people to study maths, physics and chemistry in their senior high school years. 

Suzanne Cory science teacher Bruce Drummond said he had a full list of students wanting to attend the event, including some returning for their second year.

“Today was actually a pupil-free day but they came of their own accord, which says a lot.”

Challenge helps students test knowledge

The students worked in teams of four on one of the eight activities. They represented:

  • Suzanne Cory High School in Werribee
  • Footscray City Secondary College
  • Catholic Regional College in Caroline Springs
  • Sunshine Secondary College.

Year 10 Suzanne Cory student Louis Jarillas said working on the activities helped him “challenge myself, test my limits and have a sharper mindset.”

VU students from the College of Engineering and Science and the Academy of Social Change and Leadership worked alongside College staff to assist with activities.

City West Water, a major sponsor, provided professional engineers and science educators to mentor students.

Watch videos of the students in action:

Event supports VU's strength in engineering 

Professor Khosrowshahi said the event demonstrated that VU is a desirable college for engineering and science courses, underpinned by significant performance rankings.

According to the 2019 Times Higher Education World University Subject Rankings, VU is among the state’s best universities in Engineering and Technology, and Computer Science.

In Computer Science, VU is ranked behind only the University of Melbourne in Victoria and is equal seventh in Australia. In Engineering and Technology, VU comes third in the state after Monash and Melbourne Universities, and is ranked equal ninth in Australia.

These independent rankings are a testament to VU’s strong industry links which prepare students for jobs of the future, and to VU's globally important research in areas such as applied informatics, sustainability, and electronic engineering, said Professor Khosrowshahi.

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