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Gladstone’s future innovators build bridges to better engineering skills

2016 Aurecon Bridge Building Competition - Gladstone All Rounder Winner

All-Rounder Winner - Chanel College Team

08 August 2016 - Teams from four schools have been selected for their winning designs in the Gladstone finals of the 2016 Aurecon Bridge Building Competition held at Central Queensland University today. The winners are:

  • All-Rounder Award – Chanel College – Team 2
  • Strength Award – Trinity College – Team B
  • Efficiency Award – Emerald Christian College – Team Beta
  • Innovation Award – Emerald Christian College – Team Gamma

The Aurecon Bridge Building Competition helps some 1,000 Year 8 and Year 9 High School students bring their ideas to life by encouraging them to develop their understanding of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) by building a bridge using icy pole sticks, string, glue and cardboard.

Some 8 schools entered 20 teams in the Gladstone competition this year, some travelling long distances to attend. For example the Emerald Christian College teams travelled for four hours to be at the event.

Extremely competitive entries were also provided by Tannum Sands State High School, Gladstone State High, Rockhampton Girls Grammar School, St Luke's Anglican School, Bundaburg and Aldridge State High School, Maryborough.

The competition not only provides students with a bridge engineering challenge to solve, but also provides the avenue of feedback from expert judges. The battle for the cash prizes will be played out in front of all local participating schools at each judging location, with the spectacle of seeing the bridges load-tested to destruction.

STEM subjects are the building blocks for the inquisitive, adventurous and inventive to make engineering and technology work, but are also considered to be an important building block for the future of the Australian economy.

According to Australia’s Chief Scientist, advances in the physical, mathematical and biological sciences in the past 20 to 30 years has underpinned $330 billion a year of Australia’s economic output. STEM employees have also been found to be some of the most innovative workers, and their skills in active learning and critical thinking are highly valued. However, employers have reported difficulty in recruiting STEM qualified staff.

“Aurecon believes that by enabling students to get hands on and learn the basic principles of engineering, our global engineering organisation is helping to proactively develop Australia’s next generation of engineers,” said Mr William Cox, Aurecon’s Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand.

“Engineering is a great career choice for the youth of today offering a strong likelihood of employment in a diverse range of fields,” he said. “Australian Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda website, for example, estimates that within the next decade approximately 75 per cent of jobs in the fastest-growing industries will demand science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).”

Bridge and structural engineering experts from Aurecon and competition supporters have been appointed as judges to assess each bridge for workmanship, creativity, visual appeal and functionality to determine an overall score. New prizes for award categories have been added to the competition in 2016 for an all-round, innovation, efficiency and strength awards.

New building materials, testing and scoring mechanisms and award categories are a few of the clever innovations that a group of Monash University engineering students designed for this year’s competition.

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