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Aurecon Bridge Building Competition builds future STEM professionals

Sacred Heart Girls College Oakleigh students at the 2017 Aurecon Bridge Building Competition

Sacred Heart Girls College Oakleigh students look on in anticipation as their bridge is stress tested for strength at the Victoria competition held at Scienceworks, Melbourne.

09 November 2017 - There is wide agreement between industry, government, universities and associated stakeholders that Australia and New Zealand need engineers and other STEM professionals to solve complex future infrastructure problems and meet their national innovation agendas.

As highlighted in Engineers Australia’s ‘Engineers Make Things Happen’ report released earlier this year, high school student participation in STEM is declining, and a stronger pipeline of professionals is needed to tackle future challenges.

Global engineering and infrastructure advisory company Aurecon is helping to address the looming STEM skills shortage through the Aurecon Bridge Building Competition. In its 16th year, the competition saw more than 250 schools across seven locations in Australia and New Zealand design and construct their best model bridges out of a supplied kit of materials. Prizes are awarded for the best overall entry, the strongest, the most efficient, and the most innovative bridge. This year, an optional digital component and digital award was introduced to the competition to reflect the increasing role digital technology plays in the design and construction of bridges.

“The competition aims to promote STEM skills among high school students at an early age, and we hope the learning experience will inspire them to choose a career in these fields,” says William Cox, Aurecon ANZ Managing Director.

“Teachers and students of this year’s competition enjoyed the new digital component ‒ an exciting addition to the competition as we continually challenge ourselves to make the competition as relevant to the ‘real-world’ as possible,” says William.

Redland High School students at the Aurecon Bridge Building Competition 2017

“The digital design component of the competition has given our students a glimpse of what it will be like to be an engineer of the future – and they loved it,” says David Mayo, STEM teacher, Bellingen High School.

“The competition inspired me to continue building bridges. From feeling worried about what our bridge result might be, I walked away with more than I had expected – joy and excitement! It was an amazing day!” says Domino Servite College student, Jessica George.

For some students, the competition has most certainly inspired a future in STEM:

“Since I can remember, I have always wanted a career in engineering. The Aurecon Bridge Building Competition has inspired me to make my dream come true,” says Saint Dominic’s Priory College student, Christabelle Budiman.

Aurecon received a Gold Award for the competition at Consult Australia’s annual ‘Awards for Excellence’ in the ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ category. The awards recognise outstanding contributions from member consulting firms to the industry and community.

To view highlights from this year’s competitions, view the below video.

To see a list of the winning schools in this year’s Aurecon Bridge Building Competition, click here.

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