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High school students discovering engineering at ANU

Assoc. Prof. Kylie Catchpole, Research School of Engineering, Australian National University

December 14, 2015

The Innovation Toolbox team welcome guest blogger Assoc. Prof. Kylie Catchpole introducing us to the hands on experiential world of 'discovering engineering' an extraordinary opportunity for High School students at ANU.

High school students in the ACT are getting the chance to learn what engineering is really like with an exciting hands-on course for Year 11 and 12 students run by the Australian National University.

Robot Car

The robot car that the students make during the course, which can autonomously navigate through a maze.

In year 11, students get to design, construct and program their own autonomous robot car.  The car has an Arduino microcontroller, together with 3D printed chassis and wheels, ultrasound sensors and Bluetooth capability.  Students build the sub-systems covering electronics, software, wireless communication, energy and manufacturing, linking background theory to hands-on construction.  In year 12, students learn about how engineering can help people in developing countries around the world through the Engineers Without Borders Australia (EWB) Challenge. Students design and make prototypes for important needs in these communities such as water filters, roofing and transport.  In another Year 12 project, students get to make their own lens that can turn a smartphone into a microscope.  This lens was invented by an ANU researcher, and won a Eureka Prize for Science in 2014.

robot car in maze jpg

The robot car navigates a maze

Throughout the course, different engineering disciplines are explored including materials, biomedical engineering and solar energy. The course caters for students who have an interest in, and aptitude for, engineering science and maths and is offered as a way to deepen and broaden their understanding of engineering.

Students say that the course gives them an understanding of the wide variety of paths they can take with engineering, and almost all the students who have completed the course so far plan to go on to study engineering at university.

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