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QUT Power of Engineering

QUT Power of Engineering

Author: Gay Ellyett
Author Role: Coordinator: Exceptional Scientists' Program

The Power of Engineering excursion to QUT and SMEC on 8 August was an extremely insightful and inspiring experience and was an amazing opportunity. Throughout the day, a group of Year 9 students, who all shared a passion for engineering, listened to keynote speakers and participated in hands-on activities including the marshmallow challenge and the bionic hand challenge. This exercised our brains to use engineering principles and come up with solutions. Additionally, there was an inspirational and tear-jerking engineering documentary outlining the difference pursuing engineering as a career could make to the world. It also stressed the importance of doing what you love and thinking outside the box to achieve extraordinary things. After QUT, we went on a site visit to SMEC, which provides consulting and advisory expertise across urban development, infrastructure and management services industries. This was extremely eye-opening as it gave the opportunity to see what real Brisbane female (in particular) engineers were doing. We were introduced to the various branches of engineering and heard explanations of work involved with that field. In a conference room, we then listened to the journey of two female engineers and learnt in greater depth what their work involved. All the females there were very enthusiastic and welcoming, and they provided a very real-world explanation of engineering. The tour of the site was very insightful, and I can almost guarantee that the majority of the students that participated (including me) are inspired to do engineering as a career.

Hannah Robinson, Year 10

My favourite aspect of the day was definitely being able to go around a real office, full of different types of engineers. The company we visited was SMEC (Snowy Mountains Engineering Company), where they took us on a tour of one of their three floors. We went around to all the different sections, and each different group of engineers gave us a chat on what they did. It was really interesting to discover that most parts of our lives that we take for granted, are actually made and designed by an engineer. For example, there is so much planning that has to be done by civil engineers if they want to implement a new road system. After the tour, we were taken into a rather professional looking board room, where most of us enjoyed feeling like a CEO (and of course enjoyed the comfy spinning chairs). Here, different engineers gave us a more detailed talk about their journey into engineering. Overall, the day was a really amazing experience, full of learning about our potential future in engineering.

Alice Dagwell, Year 9

Engineering is not only about building bridges and wearing hard-hats, studying engineering offers an inspiring range of majors that each require skills such as problem-solving, teamwork, creativity and critical thinking. At the Power of Engineering day at QUT, our guest speaker and QUT graduate Deanna Hood spoke to us about her eventful journey as an electrical engineer. One of her successful projects consisted of building a robot that taught children with difficulties how to improve their handwriting. Creatively, Deanna had intentionally programmed the robot so that the children could be the teachers and correct the robot’s handwriting, in turn, improving their own writing skills and self-esteem. This project particularly interested me because I enjoy the subject of robotics and programming at CHAC and it was good to see it used in a positive, real-life situation. Engineering is the way of the future.

Ambryn Parenti, Year 9


My favourite part of the day would have to be the tour through SMEC. With a prime location in the middle of the city, overlooking the Ekka show grounds on Kings Street, all 18 girls were excited to set foot in the building. We all sat down in one of the biggest board rooms I had ever seen, offloaded our QUT bags and went for a tour around the office. We talked to all different types of engineers like environment engineers, transport engineers, water engineers and many more. After finding out what projects they were all involved in, we returned to the board room. Awaiting us was an afternoon tea of delicious cupcakes and orange juice. Afterwards, Tiasha- one of the geologists working at SMEC- talked to us more about engineering and how we can get involved. This whole excursion was eye opening and loads of fun.

Eliza Parenti, Year 9

My dad has a degree in electrical engineering but doesn’t work in that industry. I’ve always said that he doesn’t use his degree, or he should have obtained a different degree because the one he did was ‘useless’. I can safely say that after today I’ll never say those things again. I had thought engineers were very basic. All they did was make plans for houses, design cars and robots etc, which didn’t seem that interesting to me. It seemed very solitary and boring. However, after my day at QUT I know that engineering is much more than that; it is problem solving, teamwork, and ideation. I now have both a deeper appreciation for engineers around me and a greater understanding of how my dad’s degree is used in his job today.

Kara Pizzica, Year 9

The part of the day that influenced me the most was when Deanna Hood talked to us about her career in engineering and how she helped so many people, such as the disabled, through her job. Deanna said that she went to university when she was only 15 and had no clue what engineering even was. She did know that her favourite subject was maths and she loved problem solving. This clued me into engineering as a career as my passion is maths and not leaving a problem unsolved. I highly recommend this excursion to everyone, even if maths isn’t your strong point as many of the engineers said that you didn’t need to be a maths wiz at school to pursue engineering as a career. I learnt so much about the many branches of engineering and how they can help people in so many more ways than I thought possible.

Libby Donnan, Year 9

I had a fantastic time at QUT and SMEC learning about girls in engineering. The day was an unforgettable experience and we were lucky enough to have the keynote speaker, Deanna Hood, gave us a snapshot of her life working in electrical engineering and I think it excited us all into what else the day would hold. Learning about the opportunities that engineering careers have firsthand from Deanna opened our eyes to how there was a place in engineering for all of us. Finally, after a quick tour of the building it was time to put our skills to the test and make a tower to support a marshmallow. Taping spaghetti sticks together to make supports let us bond with girls from other schools over our love for engineering. Our tower reached an impressive height of 44 cm but we were beaten by another school. We completed another building activity where we had to make a mechanical hand out of a glove, some string and five straws. It was quite a challenge but after much laughter and some interesting straw cutting techniques, our hand was complete. It was amazing to see what we could create with a little bit of inspiration and teamwork.

Liley Smith, Year 9

One of the workshops that we participated in was creating a bionic hand from 2m of string, some tape, cardboard and five straws. This allowed us to work with girls from other schools. After we had finished our hands were tested to see if they could pick up some cardboard and a marshmallow. Ours was able to pick up the cardboard but not the marshmallow! The main message that I took away from the day was that engineers are problem solvers – they find a problem, they address the problem and come up with a solution.

Rebecca Swift, Year 9

We started our amazing journey in the Cube. After a few guest speakers, we split into groups where we had to complete two engineering challenges. The first challenge consisted of 20 pieces of dry spaghetti and a marshmallow where, you guessed it, we had to build a tower that was both tall and able to support the weight of the marshmallow on top. Most groups were successful, the highest tower being 54cm. The next challenge was to create a ‘bionic’ hand out of five drinking straws, a rubber glove, some string and a piece of cardboard. This challenge proved to be equally difficult and fun, with many results looking less like hands and more like strange configurations of spider legs. Whilst not all the challenges turned out as successfully as we hoped, it is safe to say that we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and learnt a lot more about engineering and the countless career pathways it offers. I’d like to give a big shout-out to Ms Ellyett and the QUT team – we couldn’t have such an incredible experience without you (literally!), so thankyou to all the amazing and hard work that you put into this day for us all.

Tayah Uren, Year 9