‘Super’ funding challenge for science

In cooperation with the University of Newcastle, La Trobe University will be hosting the ‘Victorian Science and Engineering Super Challenge’ for the first time this year.  This however, may be the last time the competition is run nationally.

Super-Challenge_STDProfessor Brian McGaw, Dean of the Faculty of Science, Technology and Engineering at La Trobe says, the Victorian Science and Engineering Challenge has been a wonderful way to actively engage young students in regional and metropolitan areas around Victoria.

‘The program has been operating since 2000 and was established to address the declining numbers of engineers and scientists in Australia.  La Trobe University has been a strong supporter of the competition since 2005 and has recognised the national need for more scientists and engineers in Australia.  It would be a great shame to not give Victorian high-school students the opportunity to participate in this innovative competition,’ Professor McGaw says.

The funding for the program is in jeopardy and the Challenge will have to be scaled back significantly if it does not continue. The Challenge currently has Federal support under the ‘Scope’ program since 2004, which has allowed 54 regions around Australia to participate in the program.  Funding from ‘Scope’ will be replaced in 2012 by a new government strategy ‘Inspiring Australia’ which is raising concerns about the future of the Challenge.

Dr Terry Burns director of the program says the Federal funding gives the Challenge geographic reach enabling 21,500 students to participate in the program Australia-wide.  If the funding is cut, the entire national program will be reduced to a Northern NSW competition.

‘This is the community’s chance to stand up and support the Challenge, whether they are a student, teacher or parent. We form a large community and our many supporters provide us with possible connections into industry and potentially generous donors,’ Dr Burns says.

The Challenge is a day-long competition designed to provide high-school students in years 9 and 10 with a positive experience of science and engineering; encouraging students to look at doing science and maths as prerequisites to courses at university level.  

Media opportunity

What: The Victorian Science and Engineering Super Challenge

When: Thursday 1 September 2011 winners announced at 2.45pm

Where: La Trobe University, Melbourne Campus, Union Hall.

Peter Fullagar Team Leader, Science and Engineering Challenge, University of Newcastle

M 0418 407 322

Support the Science and Engineering Challenge contact:

Katie Brown

T 02 4921 8603 E Katie.brown@newcastle.edu.au

Lisa Prowling, Senior Marketing and Communications Officer, Faculty of Science, Technology and Engineering, La Trobe University

T 03 9479 2199 E l.prowling@latrobe.edu.au

Kristen Pascoe, Events Liaison Officer, Faculty of Science, Technology and Engineering, La Trobe University

M 0421 488 848