InspireU program inspires next generation of engineers

10 Mar 2015

A trip to Dreamworld, a Story Bridge Climb, a visit to Rio Tinto's Processing Excellence Centre and flight simulators at Boeing’s Brisbane facility were among key highlights for a select group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Year 11 and 12 students who participated in UQ’s 2015 InspireU Engineering Summer Camp.

The free six-day camp, held in the final week of summer holidays, offers students a unique opportunity to test drive tertiary study in engineering at UQ, and ultimately aims to inspire students to pursue their career dreams.

The week began with words of welcome and encouragement from Greg Lilleyman, Group Executive, Technology and Innovation of Rio Tinto.

"Education is the best tool for ensuring that you have greater work opportunities and transferable skills you can easily apply in different work settings and different geographic locations," he said. 

"In other words, you will have many more work options than others which helps you achieve your goals for the future."

During the camp, students stayed on campus at one of the University’s residential colleges and participated in engineering simulation activities, lectures and site visits to program sponsor Rio Tinto and partner Boeing.

“The camp was such a good experience. We had the opportunity to visit the Rio Tinto site, listen to inspirational speakers and be involved in the workshops and cultural activities,” said Aviation High Year 12 student Lloyd Matson.

“Most of all, it was great to hear from the experiences of current engineering students. It helped me establish a better understanding of what different engineering disciplines involve and what I might enjoy studying in the future,” he said.

The sentiment was echoed by Xavier Catholic College student, Cassie Cawthray, who said the workshops held by current engineering students were challenging, interactive and fun.

"I also found the visit to Rio Tinto extremely beneficial as I got to talk to professional who have insight and experience in the field I want to pursue," she said.

Through their college stay, students were able to fully experience university life, and also find out about the facilities available at UQ, including ongoing support services available to all camp participants from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Unit.

Tharun Sonti, a current engineering student and member of Engineers Without Borders, volunteered his time to facilitate a workshop session during the camp and enjoyed sharing his own experiences from high school and university. 

“It can be quite difficult to choose a career for life when you are looking to study at university,” he said.

“I think the camp provided an opportunity for students to understand the impact engineers can have on the world we live in, and the different ways we can influence change. 

“It also allowed time for the students to reflect personally, to think about what they need to do to reach their goals and fulfill their potential, which is an important step in finding something they are passionate about long term.”

The week concluded with a gala dinner celebrating the students’ achievements throughout the week, where students were able to network with staff from UQ and industry representatives from Rio Tinto and Boeing.

The journey for InspireU camp participants doesn’t end with the conclusion of the camp.

Students will continue to have access to a tutoring program until their graduation from high school, with a specific focus on engineering prerequisite subjects to ensure students are as well placed as possible to pursue their dream of studying engineering at UQ.

The InspireU program is sponsored by Rio Tinto and is part of a larger education partnership with The University of Queensland, which ultimately aims to create a sustainable talent pipeline for the resources sector.