Five students from the Faculty of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences have recently completed a week-long visit to the Pilbara region, inspiring almost 1000 students at Roebourne District High School, St Luke's College, and Karratha Senior High School to aim high, keep their options open, and consider careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
Current students Andie Gell, Darlene D’Mello, Elana Mulvay, Jessica Khoo and Josephine Liantono were selected to represent the University as part of a joint venture between Aspire UWA and the UWA Girls in Engineering Outreach Program.
From 24 – 28 June 2019, the team lead a range of hands-on activities to provide insight into university life, inspire students towards a range of engineering disciplines, and promote the importance of gender diversity within STEM fields.
“The schools appreciated the addition of Girls in Engineering sessions to the program with the ability to engage with current UWA students,” said Sasha Peppinck, Coordinator (School Partnerships) at Aspire UWA. “I saw a significant impact in both the high school students and the Engineering students as the week progressed. The students at the schools engaged with the UWA students during all classroom activities and asked many questions relating to student life and possible future studies.”
The experience was equally valuable for the UWA student volunteers, offering an opportunity to understand the region from educational, cultural and professional perspectives. The Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation provided a special cultural induction and guided rock art tour, led by Dr Ken Mulvaney, Principal Advisor Cultural Heritage at Rio Tinto, and organised with help from Dr Jo McDonald, Director of the Centre for Rock Art Research & Management at The University of Western Australia.
“As someone who has never been to the Pilbara, visiting Karratha and having the opportunity to interact with the schools was really rewarding,” stated Jessica Khoo, final year electrical engineering student. “Seeing the enthusiasm of the students during the activities was really wholesome and you couldn't help but be excited with them.”
The trip included visits to Rio Tinto who have been foundation partner of the UWA Girls in Engineering program since 2012 and part of broader UWA and Rio Tinto Talent Education Partnership to support success throughout the student lifecycle.
UWA students toured the Port and Rail facilities and attended a networking dinner, giving them an in-depth look into the mining industry in the region.
“It was really interesting getting to see the behind the scenes of Rio Rail, particularly how automation has really changed the game in this industry. Rio Port was an awe-inspiring experience, and it was neat seeing the end of the mining cycle,” said Darlene D’Mello, 4th year electrical engineering and physics student.
“Connections, outreach programs and tours like this are essential to the future of our youth, especially girls,” commented Donna Stace, Maintenance Supervisor at the Rio Tinto Railways Division and 2019 winner of the Chamber of Minerals and Energy’s WA Most Outstanding Operator/Technician/Trade Woman in Resources Award.
“These events are fabulous for women to build awareness and see the opportunities that are out there waiting for them. You can’t be it if you can’t see it! By role modelling and showcasing what roles are being carried out by women in a male dominated industry we can help to promote change.”
Tina Zhang (UWA Faculty of Engineering Mathematical Sciences) (+61 8) 6488 1733
Madeline Hermawan (UWA Faculty of Engineering Mathematical Sciences) (61+ 8) 6488 7886