How best to reach out to students?

I'd like to outline some of the initiatives that the Institute of Instrumentation, Control and Automation (IICA) is currently leading.

Those are to do with raising awareness, interest and explaining the possibilities of pathways to interesting and rewarding careers in the areas of instrumentation, control systems and automation (IC&A).

The focus of each initiative is therefore firmly fixed on schools and tertiary institutions.

The first initiative is one that my colleagues in Western Australia have been undertaking for a number of years and focuses on secondary schools.

The IICA Perth Branch has developed relationships with these institutions, mostly via careers teachers. It involves a number of IICA Members making presentations to students about instrumentation and related areas. 

The presentations explain, in simple and arresting ways (using the aptly named 'bang box' as one of their visual aids) some of the principles and characteristics of particular instrumentation and control systems.

The presenters have a clear vision of their message and have the ability to generate interest and attention from their youthful audiences.

Another initiative that has also emanated from our Perth Branch, is the development of a number of extremely professionally produced and punchy videos which portray a number of young graduate men and women talking about their exciting and rewarding jobs within different IC&A fields.

Each video is made using real young persons who are genuinely excited and enthusiastic about their newly acquired careers, and their spontaneity shines through each presentation.

Those young men and women and their personal stories serve as aspirational role models to other young graduates considering their own career options. 

The last couple of examples are ones that the majority of IICA Branches have taken up as part of their ongoing annual Branch activities.

They include participation at various Careers Expos. Engineers Australia has for some years now organised State based Expos and the IICA Federal Council has agreed that such opportunities would sit comfortably within the Institute's overall Educational and Networking aims of establishing and fostering links with students interested in engineering related career goals.

The IICA has generated with positive relationships with a number of tertiary institutions that offer qualifications in the broad IC&A discipline areas.

Those relationships range from sponsoring prizes for best students in particular subjects to organizing student beer and pizza nights and encouraging tertiary final year students to join the IICA as Student Members with free Membership.

These initiatives raise awareness and visibility of our Institute and also assist in ensuring that there is a continuing stream of young persons enthusiastic and actively wanting to take up IC&A careers in the future.

[Brett Simpson is President IICA.]

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