AMTIL has been a long-time supporter of the F1 in Schools program and we are pleased to highlight this year’s award winners. This year it was particularly evident the impact that the Re-Engineering Australia (REA) Foundation program has had on encouraging young women to be involved and view engineering as a career path of choice.

REA Foundation’s F1 in Schools™ program attracts a real diversity of ethnic backgrounds. This was never more evident than with the nation’s top team: Golden Diversity. Their team name lends itself to the fact that the girls each have family backgrounds from distinctly different parts of the world.

A quick appraisal of the 131 competitor names at the F1 in Schools national finals also revealed representation from across the globe. This multitude of genealogies was no obstacle to the team members because in order to reach this level of competition they have spent months if not years working very closely together – with an emphasis on teamwork, collaboration, complementary skill sets and good communication.

The F1 in Schools national champion for 2017 is Golden Diversity from Queechy High School in Tasmania. Golden Diversity is made up of five girls and, and as their team name suggests, all are from very diverse backgrounds.

  • Yara Alkhalili – Iraqi – Year 10
  • Hoai Nguyen – Vietnamese – Year 10
  • Eleanor Arumugam – Indian – Year 10
  • Claire Cameron – Scottish/Australian – Year 9
  • Hollie Johnson – English – Year 10

Second place went to Hyperdrive, a team of boys from Trinity Grammar School in Kew Victoria (an all-boys school) and third place went to Instant Transmission, an all-boys team from Queechy High School. Golden Diversity will now lead Team Australia at the 2017 F1 in Schools world finals this year – being held in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia at the end of September.

Girls of all ages have found a ‘perfect fit’ in many of the F1 in Schools team roles, predominantly those of Team Manager, Marketing Manager and Graphic Designer. A number of teams feature female engineers and car designers. At the 2017 REA Foundation national finals, more than half of the teams (17 out of 30) included girls. Golden Diversity is an all-girl team. This team was one of four all-girl teams whilst a fifth had four girls and one boy. Nine of the 17 teams were led by a female Team Manager and four of them had female design engineers.

A highlight of the awards ceremony was having members from Brighton Secondary School’s 2016 world finals team – who came second outright and broke the world speed record – presenting awards to “the next generation”. Who better to present this year’s awards than the fastest team in the 13-year history of F1 in Schools?

Another exceptional outcome from Re-Engineering Australia Foundation’s applied learning STEM competition is that it has led to the development of several champion educators who have wholeheartedly embraced the holistic nature of these programs and their dramatic student outcomes. They have energetically promoted the competitions to their own schools and many others spread across their states. Some of these teachers have led from the front for more than a decade, and the results of their dedication helped make the recent national finals such a success.

The REA Foundation is changing the perception of engineering with our younger generation. REA’s programs have linked schools, industry, TAFE, universities and parents in a collaborative environment focused on changing the metaphor of the education process. More than 35,000 students are mentored each year with another 100,000 benefiting from these outcomes. Over the past 20-odd years, approximately half a million students have been impacted by REA.

Dr Michael Myers OAM – founder of the not-for-profit organisation in 1998 – I salute you.