Our future Indigenous engineers

A bionic eye lab, liquid nitrogen ice cream and climbing the Harbour Bridge were among the highlights of the Indigenous Australian Engineering Summer School.

IAESS inside

Indigenous school students from some of the most remote parts of Australia have had a taste of engineering as a future profession, and in some cases their first taste of life in Sydney, at UNSW.

Twenty students attended the Indigenous Australian Engineering Summer School (IAESS) this week for a six-day program which included making instant ice cream with liquid nitrogen, a visit to UNSW's bionic eye lab and climbing Sydney's most famous engineering achievement, the Harbour Bridge.

The IAESS is designed to introduce Indigenous high school students to engineering and address the under-representation of Indigenous graduates in the profession.

Students from locations including Derby in WA and Cygnet in southern Tasmania, attended on-campus workshops in all facets of engineering: Biomedical, Chemical, Civil and Environmental, Computer Science, Electrical and Telecommunications, Mining, Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy, Surveying and Spatial Information Systems and Petroleum.

The program also took them to the Sydney Opera House, the Cochlear bionic ear labs, Taronga Zoo to see advanced water treatment facilities, and the Royal North Shore Hospital construction site.

Harry Sabatino, from Thursday Island in the Torres Strait, made his first visit to Sydney for the IAESS. The 15-year-old applied for the program to learn more about mechanical engineering after gaining an interest in cars and engines from his diesel fitter uncle.

"I like working with cars but sometimes you just think 'how can I make this better'," he said.

Ashleigh Hyland, 15, from Maryborough in Queensland, is considering following her older brother, Jacob, to UNSW. While Jacob is studying civil engineering, Ashleigh said mining had caught her interest.

"I thought mining engineering looked pretty cool, even though it looks hard," she said.

Dean of Engineering, Professor Graham Davies, said the IAESS benefitted both the Faculty and the visiting students.

"Through programs like the Summer School we can show school students the vital contributions engineers make to so many aspects of our daily lives and give them a sense of the possibilities that open up through studying engineering," he said.

"It's a great opportunity for us as educators to encourage more Indigenous students to think about engineering, and for the students as people looking for an exciting and meaningful career."

Media Contact: Peter Trute, UNSW Media Office | 02 9385 1933 | p.trute@unsw.edu.au