3D challenge inspires young engineers

The Quantum Victoria PrintACar Challenge – once again sponsored by and held at La Trobe University – has been run and won, with two schools crowned 2018 champions.

The PrintACar Challenge sees Victorian students register for the opportunity to design, 3D print and race a car. All parts of the car – with the exception of axles – must be printed using a 3D printer. A small CO2 canister is used to fuel the cars as they race down a 20m track.

After successfully qualifying their cars for competition, 141 students from 16 primary and secondary schools brought their perfected 3D printed creations to the La Trobe Engineering ICT Showcase for the final race.

In a first for the competition, two grand prizes of an UP2 Plus 3D Printer were presented to the overall primary and the overall secondary school winners. The winners were chosen based on an aggregate score, which is based on the marks they have received for their portfolio, poster, creative design, print finish and speed of their car.

Overall primary school winner:

  • Kaniva College
    Team name: Mechanical Masters
    Team members: Milly Rabone, Shayden Saunders, Toby Mulraney, Jess Cassar

Overall secondary school winner:

  • St Leonards College
    Team name: Falconeers
    Team members: Jack Chapman, Luke Stevenson, Madison Hem and Philbert Xhang

La Trobe University Pro Vice-Chancellor (College of Science, Health and Engineering), Professor Rob Pike, congratulated the winning schools and noted the importance of the PrintACar initiative.

“This is an innovative way for schools to explore and improve student participation in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) education,” Professor Pike said.

“Well done to all who participated in this exciting and forward-thinking challenge.

“The 3D designs were incredibly competitive this year and I hope they’ve inspired some of these young engineers to consider a future in an industry which is becoming increasingly important.”

Despite demand for engineers growing by an average 4.2 per cent per year in Australia, recent data shows student participation in STEM subjects is on a downward trend, with participation in these subjects by young women substantially lower than participation by young men.[1]

In addition, the number of year 12 students accepting places in engineering courses has decreased, with 11,061 acceptances in 2015 compared with 12,225 acceptances in 2013. Of those 11,061 in 2015, only 1,845 were women.[2]

Quantum Victoria Director, Soula Bennett, said the PrintACar Challenge gives students a real-life display of STEM in action.

“The challenge allows students to draw on 21st century skills and knowledge as they design, test and create their 3D printed car,” Ms Bennett said.

“It’s also pleasing to see a shift towards a gender balance in this challenge, with the number of girls competing increasing every year.”

16 teams competed across five categories: Racing, Best Portfolio, Best Poster, Most Original/Creative and Print Quality.

All primary school participants took home a ‘Makey Makey’ kit and all secondary school participants took home an ‘Arduino’ kit, to help further their passion for engineering beyond the challenge.

The PrintACar competition has attracted over 580 primary and secondary students throughout Victoria since it was established in 2014. It is the first initiative of its kind in Australia.

Media contact: Dragana Mrkaja – 0447 508 171 / d.mrkaja@latrobe.edu.au

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[1] Engineers Australia - The engineering profession: A Statistical Overview, Thirteenth Edition

[2] Engineers Australia - The engineering profession: A Statistical Overview, Thirteenth Edition

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