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Aurecon Bridge Building Competition fostering innovation in future STEM professionals

The involvement of universities and industry professionals, together with Aurecon graduates will also enable students to experience where a career in STEM could take them.

“Science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) education is essential for future generations to learn these skills, as STEM enables students to think critically and flexibly to adapt to our rapidly changing world," says Aurecon’s Managing Director – Australia & New Zealand, Louise Adams

02 September 2019 – Global engineering, design and advisory company Aurecon continues to support increasing diversity and participation in STEM with their annual Aurecon Bridge Building Competition.

This year, the competition is set to be bigger than ever before with updated guidelines and bridge building kits to foster creativity and innovative thinking. The involvement of universities and industry professionals, together with Aurecon graduates will also enable students to experience where a career in STEM could take them.

Aurecon’s Managing Director – Australia & New Zealand, Louise Adams said: “We know that future workforces will need problem-solving skills and digital skills, together with innovative and creative thinking.”

“Science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) education is essential for future generations to learn these skills, as STEM enables students to think critically and flexibly to adapt to our rapidly changing world,” she continued.

Between 2017 and 2018, employers overall experienced greater difficulty recruiting engineering professionals compared with recent years, and the proportion of vacancies filled for engineering jobs fell from 69% to 59% over the year. Completion rates of entry level engineering degrees also rapidly slowed in the last three years and, in 2017, dropped for the first time in a decade.

Participation in the challenging STEM subjects in Australian schools has also declined by up to 10 percentage points in some subjects over the past two decades. To meet the challenges of the future, as noted in the Innovation and Science Australia 2030 plan, governments, educators and industry must work more closely together to maximise and amplify the impact of industry investment, as well as ensure students and teachers keep up with the rapid pace of change in STEM disciplines.

The New Zealand Government has established Curious Minds, an initiative with a 10-year goal of encouraging and enabling better engagement with science and technology for all New Zealanders. It has been found that interest in STEM disciplines in early secondary school is a key predictor of interest in later years at school, reinforcing the importance for teachers to maintain student interest and achievement levels in STEM skills from an early age.

The annual Aurecon Bridge Building Competition is in its 18th year and engages approximately 250 schools, with around 1200 students across Australia and New Zealand to design and construct a model bridge using materials supplied by Aurecon. It aims to encourage students to consider STEM subjects and careers by engaging with them early in a fun way.

The bridge building kits are sent out to all teams a few months before the competition. Students work together in teams to plan and design their bridges before bringing them in to have them judged on specific Judging Days, across the seven locations in September. Students also get a chance to talk to the judges (who are senior engineers) about why and how they designed and built their particular bridge.

With Digital Literacy becoming increasingly important in STEM-related professions, students are also encouraged to design their bridge using Sketch Up Make or AutoCAD software.

Further information about the competition, including dates, venues and highlights from previous year’s events are available on the Aurecon Bridge Building Competition website.

A big thank you to our current supporters for this year: Department of Transport and Main Roads, Clough, VIC Roads, Main Roads Western Australia, Transurban, The University of Adelaide, Autodesk, The Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure, Stuartholme School and Mount St Joseph Girls College.

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