Advanced Engineering Workshop runs again in Mildura
Our first Advanced Engineering event of the year ran in Mildura on 26 February. Students from Mildura Senior Coll and Red Cliffs SC attended to experience a day of in-depth engagement with the world of engineering.
Mildura Senior College hosted a this Advanced Engineering event where 50 of their keen senior students, along with some from Red Cliffs SC, participated in workshops to learn about advances in communication engineering, computer software simulation and improvements in robotics.
Following a very informative introduction by engineering staff from La Trobe University, the main part of the day gave the attending years 11 and 12 students a chance to participate in an engineering workshop of their choice , where they worked with current university engineering students and staff:
Communications Engineering – TV Antenna Design - here students started the day learning about digital signals and antenna design. Students were set the challenge of constructing a functional antenna that would enable them to tune a TV into local digital TV stations. Students had an opportunity to get hands on with advanced engineering equipment such as a spectrum analyser. This allowed them to explore a world they regularly interact with but is entirely unseen. A number of students really appreciated the opportunity to explore physics concepts, both VCE and beyond, outside the normal classroom environment. Taking a trial and error approach to antenna design gave the students a chance to use their creativity, while guidance allowed them to integrate their experiences with the underlying physics and formulas, giving all teams great experiences.
Software Engineering – Simulation and Design - here students gained a deeper understanding of the inner workings of everyday software design by creating a simulation of a classic physics problem. Students were given a partially completed visual simulation of a moving ball and were tasked with finishing the simulation to predict the behaviour of a falling object on various planets in the solar system. This process exposes students to many of the fundamentals of engineering such as using principles of physics to solve real problems, translating physical intuition into mathematical descriptions and the use of numerical approximation. Doing all this in the 'Python' programming language also showed students just what can be achieved with an understanding of software. The gentle pace of introduction built such confidence that 5 students requested details of the tools used so they could continue to learn at home.
Robotics & Mechatronics Engineering – Robotic Systems Design - assembling, programming and operating a robotic arm was the objective of this practical activity. Students worked with kits to assemble their robotic arm to grip and lift an object. The next challenge was to write some control software using an Arduino microcontroller, to control the arm through a series of tasks. This helped students link software skills with the real world and introduced the advanced concept of control theory. Finally, some principles of physics were applied as the students assessed the load carrying capacity of the arm and the forces being exerted as the arm moved a payload. Moving through this process really helped some students develop keen trouble shooting skills, to deal with the challenges their team faced.
Overall, it was a very successful day. The opportunity to interact with current university students and engineering staff from the University added to the students' enjoyment and their learning experience.
Students commented about the day:
"Engineering involves a lot of problem solving and creativity"
"Everything involves engineering, doesn’t matter how little it is."
Teachers attending with their students made the following comments about the day:
"[we will] Reinforce activities in the classroon during lessons."
The LEAP Program extends a big thank you to Mildura Senior College for hosting us for the day of engineering excitement.
LEAP into… Engineering activities aim to encourage students to consider a career in Engineering. View all Engineering Activities available to your school.