Approximately 25 year 9-12 students from Boronia K-12 College experienced engineering at La Trobe University as part of the LEAP into Engineering program. Students were amazed by the advancements in engineering and technology over the last decade and were given an introduction to the Engineering profession by Tully McCart, a recent engineering graduate.
Goal line technology, insect trackers, robotic limbs were just of the technologies discussed. Student had the opportunity to undertake two hands on engineering workshops. In the first students learnt about robotics by operating an all terrain robotic vehicle inspired by the Mars Curiosity Rover. Challenges were set and students had to navigate through a course collaborating in teams to complete tasks.
During the robotic presentation several student volunteers from La Trobe University were able to better explain the intricate aspects of operation. A 3rd year student studying electronic engineering, Sam Edwards provided students with a demonstration of a national competition he was taking part in with his fellow peers. The robotic system he was working on had to complete an advanced task of automatically planting seeds in an unfamiliar terrain using no human input.
In the second workshop students learned about the importance of vehicle safety mechanism, particularly focusing on the design of vehicle bodies and crumple zones which can reduce fatal forces acting on the human body during crashes. In groups, students were pitted against each other in designing a crumple zone for the front of a model car using only readily available materials such as plastic cups, paper, bubble wrap etc. The vehicles were then crash tested and an accelerometer was used to calculate the force acting on the passengers inside the vehicle.
To conclude the day, attendees were given an opportunity to question university students in a panel forum. During the conclusion session students were given a real surprise when a 60 kg large scale robot drove into the room. The robot in question is the Wildlife Sanctuary robot designed by La Trobe University PhD student Ba Son Thai. Thai gave students an eye opening brief about his journey through University and what his robot aimed to do. "The robot will allow scientists to monitor wildlife in 3D". The robot is also capable of mimicking animal sounds to attract males and females of particular species and will be utilized to further study the life and behavior of various animals.
To conclude the day, students were given a tour of the Engineering facilities and the campus at La Trobe University.