Twenty-one budding engineers from across Australia will begin arriving in Newcastle tomorrow ahead of a week-long engineering summer school for Indigenous students.
The Year 11 and 12 students, some from as far away as Western Australia and the Northern Territory, will spend one week immersed in the world of engineering.
The Summer School is an annual event, established in 1999 by not-for-profit organisation Engineering Aid. It is being hosted by the University of Newcastle in conjunction with the Wollotuka School of Aboriginal Studies.
Pro Vice-Chancellor of the Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment, Professor John Carter, said the innovative program aimed to encourage more Indigenous students to pursue a career in the engineering field.
"Engineers are in huge demand across Australia, yet Indigenous Australians are under-represented in the engineering profession," Professor Carter said.
"By giving Indigenous students a hands-on understanding of the field, we're offering a real insight into what engineers do on a daily basis.
"The Summer School will provide a challenging environment for Indigenous students to discover the benefits of engineering and a forum to meet engineering role models.
"This experience will give these students the knowledge to help make an informed decision about whether engineering is a good career choice for them."
The students will take part in a range of activities across all engineering disciplines, interact with engineers, participate in design work and observe projects in action.
There will also be site visits to EnergyAustralia, GHD, Rio Tinto, the Williamtown RAAF Base and Eraring Power Station. The week concludes with a dinner on Friday 23 January where former Prime Minister and Patron of the Summer School, the Hon. Bob Hawke, will present students with graduation certificates.
Keynote speaker at the graduation dinner is prominent journalist and commentator Jeff McMullen AM.
The Indigenous Australian Engineering Summer School is sponsored by engineering companies, government departments and private donors. All costs are covered by the Summer School and the students will stay at the University's Edwards Hall.
For comment: Professor John Carter on 02 4921 6025.
Photo opportunity: Tuesday 20 January 2009 at 11am. Students will be building and working with robots. Media are to meet Jenny Taylor at the Pro Vice-Chancellor's office in building EF, room 105.