15 March 2006

Model catapults, hovercraft and airships will whizz around UQ until Friday as 400 Brisbane high school students compete in UQ’s Science and Engineering Challenge.

The second annual UQ challenge, which starts this morning, encourages teenagers to pursue science and
engineering careers.

Challenge coordinator Michael Cassey said groups of year nine and 10 students were given projects to design, build, cost and test a range of model structures and machinery.

Some of those projects are building a rescue helicopter, evacuation hovercraft for the Antarctic, a metropolitan power network, a super catapult, a mine bridge, an airship and a Mars space buggy.

Mr Cassey said the students were timed and marked on their creations with the winners going on to a state final with a national final in Tamworth in October.

The Challenge concept and program was created at The University of Newcastle and had been adopted by dozens of universities around Australia.

He said it was designed to encourage students to stay with the advanced mathematics and science streams.

“Scientists and engineers don’t always stand around in lab coats crunching numbers,” Mr Cassey said.

The Challenge will be held at the UQ Centre, St Lucia (Building 27A), between 9.30am and 3pm each day.

The Head of UQ’s School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering Professor Paul Bailes said the Challenge was all about giving opportunities to teenagers but still having fun.

“UQ is the natural destination for school-leavers who are looking to challenge their abilities, and the Science and Engineering Challenge is a good preview of the sorts of excitement student can look forward to in UQ’s engineering, science and technology programs,” Professor Bailes said.

The Challenge is sponsored by the Department of Engineering, Science and Training, Education Queensland, Department of Main Roads, Maunsell SKM (Sinclair Knight Merz), Rotary International and UQ`s Schools of Engineering and Information Technology and Electrical Engineering.

MEDIA: UQ Faculty of Engineering, Physical Sciences and Architecture marketing officer Jackie Mergard (3365 3634) or Miguel Holland at UQ Communications (3365 2619). Best photo opportunities are before lunch each day.