March 2nd, 2015

Engineering Experience heads to Mildura

LEAP into...Engineering went out on the road last week with a trip to Mildura.

Staff and students from La Trobe University's Department of Electronic Engineering ran an Engineering Experience Workshop, providing a wonderful learning opportunity for the students to meet and interact with engineers.

On Friday 27 February, La Trobe University, Mildura hosted an Engineering Experience event for 50 students from Werrimull SC, Red Cliffs SC and Mildura Christian College. The students were given an informative introduction to the world of engineering and received insight into the principles behind different aspects of engineering. Following this, they experienced hands on practical activities in the three workshops of electrical/ electronic engineering, software engineering and mechanical engineering.

Electrical/ Electronic Engineering – Curiosity Bot workshop - Students enjoyed the challenges of operating a remote control robot vehicle to navigate a course. They interacted with current university students and during the session learned about the components and engineering that go into the robot and the wireless control system. The curiosity bot is inspired by the various Mars rovers. Students were inspired by the wealth of features on the robot, mimicking a living being with vision, motion, energy and a nervous system. Each feature is discussed, opening up a world of engineering possibilities.

Software Engineering – Simulation and Design - Students were given an opportunity to peek behind the curtain of software engineering, dispelling some of its mystery. Rather than teaching students a programming language, they were guided through the software engineering process at a high level. Students worked through the process of filling in gaps and modifying a simplified visual physics simulation. This opened many students' eyes to what can be achieved with skills in software engineering. Many who at first were sure software was not their thing ended up enthusiastic about what they could achieve.

Automotive Engineering – Crash Testing for Dummies - Students were able to explore the ideas used to design cars to better protect drivers and passengers. In small groups, students designed and constructed a ‘crumple zone’ from common materials they attached to the front of a miniature test car, with the aim of minimising the peak acceleration reached during a frontal crash. Students then tested their designs by propelling the car into a mini 'crash barrier'. Students used a computer to record the peak de-acceleration of their vehicle and compare this value with values used by a professional design engineer. This allowed students to see the connection between materials choice or structural design and the safety of their cars.

Students commented how much they enjoyed the sessions and learned from the day: 

"Greater understanding of what engineers do."

"Engineering is actually a big part of the world, we wouldn’t have aeroplanes and robots." 

Teachers commented: 

"Activities were good and hands on."

Overall, these engineering experiences provided a great opportunity for the students to think a little more about the career possibilities out there and to gain a better understanding of what different engineers do.

LEAP into… Engineering activities aim to encourage students to consider a career in Engineering. View all Engineering Activities available to your school.

By: LEAP into...Engineering Team
Categories: Engineering

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