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Abigroup promotes engineering to the next generation

31 January 2011

At the end of 2010 Abigroup sponsored the Grand Challenge finals of the National Science and Engineering Challenge which saw more than 22,000 year 9 and 10 students from 600 schools around the country compete during the year across a number of science and mathematics based challenges.

The three day Grand Challenge marked the tenth anniversary of the event and involved 24 schools competing in the bronze, silver and gold divisions. The gold was won by the Sydney Technical High School with silver being taken out by All Saints College and bronze by St Mary’s High School. All winners this year came from NSW.

Organised and run through the University of Newcastle, the Challenge is designed to show students the practical applications of science and mathematics in a fun environment with the objective of increasing the number of senior high school students electing to study science and maths subjects in their final years. Regional competitions are held throughout the country during the year with the winners progressing through subsequent local rounds before making the Grand Challenge at the end of the year.

The University began the program after a decline in the number of students studying engineering. Research into the decline revealed that it was in part due to many students electing not to study maths and science in their senior high school. Increasing the number of high school students studying maths and science increases the number of potential engineering students.

Abigroup Managing Director David Jurd said, “Abigroup is pleased to be part of an initiative that promotes the future of our industry.

“It’s not about selling engineering as a career path but about engaging these students with maths and science, bringing the subjects out of the text books and into their hands and showing them the practical applications of what they are learning in a fun, competitive and exciting environment.”

Research into the initiative shows how effective it has been since it began. A survey of participants in the 2009 Challenge found that:

  • 93% found it rewarding; and
  • 84% found it informative about relevant potential careers.

Of those students who participated in the Challenge and went on to study science and mathematics in Year 11:

  • 25% of Mathematics students were influenced by the Challenge to chose this subject;
  • 35% of Chemistry students were influenced by the Challenge to chose this subject; and
  • 45% of Physics students were influenced by the Challenge to choose this subject.

For more information on the science and engineering challenge logon to www.newcastle.edu.au.

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