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Budding engineers embark on mystery tour to transform waste


Jessica Nelson
27 April 2018

In light of China’s ban on Australia’s imported recyclables, some of the region’s brightest young minds came up with ideas for innovate waste engineering solutions at the Young Engineer’s event hosted by Southern Cross University.

Twenty-three high school students from Years 10 to 12 convened at Southern Cross University Lismore campus for the mystery field trip to the Lismore City Environment Education Centre, next door to the award-winning Lismore Recycling & Recovery Centre on Wyrallah Road.

This group brainstorming activity was a highlight of the event for the budding engineers, who signed on for the school holiday event to enable them to discover what a career in engineering could be like.

Year 10 Shearwater Steiner School student Jarra Launer said he loved the ‘mystery’ element of the event, where students only found out on the day where they were going.

“It was such an interesting day learning about the recycling and reusing aspect of engineering, and we got to spend time in groups brainstorming and coming up with ideas and inventions,” he said.

Students were given a tour of the waste facility, took part in a waste engineering solution discussion, and then split into teams of four to tackle the building challenge: creating an imaginary device out of waste. Each team spent two minutes explaining their creative invention and its abilities, with the most creative teams awarded prizes.

Year 12 Coffs Harbour High School Jeremy Chambers said he was very interested in pursuing a career in engineering.

“My team created a device that automatically picks up rubbish from the ground, using an old skateboard as the wheels, and chucks it into the basket,” he said.

Year 10 Kadina High School student Riley Couch said all objects for the building challenge has been delivered from the Revolve Shop on site at the Lismore Recycling & Recovery Centre.

“I’m very interested in the technical side of engineering and I love having a challenge, so during the discussion time we all pitched in ideas of ways to reduce the cost of the process of recycling,” he said.

“We also got to walk through the treatment plant and saw how some of the waste is turned into dirt for reusing.”

Students viewed a solar farm after lunch, on the way back to Southern Cross, then took a tour of the University’s labs and facilities on campus and listened to an inspiring talk about career options in the engineering space.

Professor Scott Smith, Dean of Engineering in the School of Environment, Science and Engineering, said Southern Cross University’s Young Engineers event was about educating and inspiring high school students from the Northern Rivers who had a particular interest in the sector.

“Each year in Term 1 school holidays we offer senior high school students the opportunity to learn more about engineering and careers in this field,” he said.

“This year the mystery tour to the Lismore City Environment Education Centre gave students firsthand experience to develop an understanding of the importance of engineering in our world.”