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Engineering summer school builds indigenous aspirations

Indigenous students with an interest in engineering as a career are a step closer to reaching their aspirations following Curtin University’s fourth Indigenous Australian Engineering Summer School (IAESS).

The weeklong experience enabled 24 students hailing from as far north as Horn Island off the Queensland coast and south to Esperance to discover the benefits of an engineering profession, meet engineering role models and gain insight into the opportunities it can provide communities.

Tim Keely, Curtin’s engineering outreach coordinator and IAESS program manager, said after spending a week with the 15 boys and nine girls between the ages of 15 and 17, many had indicated they would like to take on engineering as a career, whether it be in the civil, electrical or mechanical fields.

“The highlight for me was to see how far their confidence grew, from the first industry networking evening to their visit to Government House hosted by the Governor of Western Australia, Malcolm McCusker, their self-belief and maturity was clearly stronger,” he said.

“Building robots with the Curtin Robotics Club, viewing the night sky at the Perth Observatory, a visit to Watercorp and Woodside Energy were just some of the activities to try and capture their interest and enthusiasm towards the vast field of engineering. The sky’s the limit when it comes to engineering, and it was great to see them realise this.”

Other activities included building circuits, site visits to engineering operations, a floating platform competition, a closer look at renewable energy technology, a night at Abmusic with WA musicians Bryte MC, Ulla Shay and DJ Zeke, and a closer look at campus life.

Mr Keely said it was also very encouraging to see the increase in numbers of female participants, up from three last year, demonstrating a new enthusiasm to the traditionally male-dominated field.

Professor Moses Tade, Dean of Engineering, said IAESS was a fantastic opportunity to provide typically under-represented Aboriginal students with the opportunity to enhance their passion and talent in the field.

“We want to provide the platform for these young students to achieve as much as possible through engineering experience and practice,” Professor Tade said.

“The summer school not only allows them to engage with their interest in a supportive environment, but exposes them to key industry people and places to hopefully open doors to a promising future career in engineering.”

The IAESS was established 16 years ago by Engineering Aid Australia.

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