The future of Australian science and engineering is in these hands

If you want to see the future of science and engineering in Australia take a look at the faces in the photo. These are the finalists in the BHP Biliton Science and Engineering Awards; and, wow, have they done some amazing stuff.

I was at the awards ceremony in Melbourne yesterday and talked to a lot of the students. The science projects range from grazing sheep on deadly fireweed, to a new way to deal with antibiotic resistance, to using magnetite to clean up oil spills. Engineering covered projects from a musical instrument built into a hoodie, to a cheap and versatile drone. These projects sound more like the sort of thing you see winning university awards than projects undertaken by high school students. And, on top of the complexity of the projects, they could all present them with maturity and aplomb.

The list of winners is:

  • 1st Place Engineering Award: Justin Mitchell from Victoria
  • 1st Place Investigations Award: Jade Moxey from New South Wales
  • Winner of the Innovation to Market Award: Amber Kraczkowska from South Australia
  • Winner of the Teacher Award: Hamish Gibson from Western Australia
  • 2nd Place Engineering Award: Callum & Declan Predavec from New South Wales
  • 2nd Place Investigations Award: Amy Zhou from Queensland
  • 3rd Place Engineering Award: Dylan Sanusi-Goh from Victoria
  • 3rd Place Investigations Award: Rebekah Kang from New South Wales

The Awards are a partnership between the BHP Billiton Foundation, CSIRO, and ASTA; all of who really ought to take a bow for organising the awards and helping provide an outlet and recognition for this sort of creativity.

CSIRO Chief Executive Larry Marshall said it was critical to support and promote STEM for students.

STEM drives innovation globally but in Australia the participation and engagement in STEM subjects by school students is declining. These Awards are an innovative and inspiring way to connect with future STEM professionals and encourage them to join us in tackling the challenges of tomorrow. The work that these students have done is truly inspiring and I have high hopes for the future of Australia.

Selected finalists will represent Australia at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in the United States in May 2017.

There are more details and videos on the competition website.

Full disclosure: the Geek in Sydney spawn are amongst the winners. But I reported on last year’s winners before my kids were ever involved so this isn’t, quite, just showing off.

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