On the 15th of July, VCE physics students from Leongatha and Korumburra secondary college visited La Trobe University's Department of Engineering to undertake experiments related to the transmission of power. The experiments were conducted by La Trobe University Lecturer Andrew Martchenko. Each group of students were given a board of a scaled down power station with transformers stepping-up the voltage and then stepping-down the voltage over transmission lines before reaching the street lights. Students were required to measure voltages and calculate power losses. Students had to examine the power losses in four experimental setups, two with bypassing the transformers and two with using the transformers. This allowed students to compare results and draw conclusions on the importance of high voltage transmission.
A student from Leongatha SC stated "We live in the La Trobe Valley which generates most of the power for Victoria. I now have a better understanding of how the power is generated and transmitted from a power station to a house. We studied the theory back at school several weeks ago. Being able to conduct hands on experiments such as this one is very important in fully comprehending the material taught."
La Trobe University Lecturer Andrew Martchenko provided the students with problems related to the transmission of power, relating them to real life scenarios which Engineers face in the Electrical industry. "It is important for students to understand how mathematics and physics are applied to solve simple problems which have a great impact on modern society. In Australia, we take much of this for granted because we have world class engineers operating world class facilities. As an end user we rarely question why a blackout has occurred, we simply wait a short period of time, the power comes back and we move on with our lives. The engineer is tasked with resolving such problems but more importantly in preventing them in the near future."
Andrew utilised examples of power grid overloading during summer when most Australians utilise air-conditioning and how this can lead to power outages. Examples were also provided about the illegal taping of power from the grid, predominantly in countries were regulation is difficult due high density populations.
The excursion to La Trobe University concluded with an interactive presentation on engineering careers and a demonstration of student projects. The Department of Engineering also donated a cathode ray oscilloscope to each school which will enable students to take electronic measurements during their studies.
The Department of Engineering at La Trobe University is a leader amongst Victorian Universities in providing high value practical experiments related to Electronics/Electrical, Applications of Physics, Photonics in Communications and much more. To view the full compliment of outreach programs please visit our Outreach page.