The University of Newcastle's highly successful Science and Engineering Challenge has reached new heights with the first Challenge on foreign soil to be held in Singapore tomorrow.
Since its inception in 2000, the Challenge has steadily grown from a local event to one involving more than 15,000 students from 500 high schools across all Australian states and territories each year.
Professor John O'Connor, Head of the University of Newcastle's School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, said the expansion of the Challenge to Singapore was testament to the success of the program.
"Since the Challenge started, student enrolment in high school physics, chemistry and mathematics has improved. Across Australia it has been very successful in generating excitement about science and engineering as a career path," Professor O'Connor said. "The expansion of the program to Singapore is a new high point for the Challenge, and we are very excited to take our program to an international audience."
Tomorrow, eight secondary schools will compete in the inaugural Singapore Science and Engineering Challenge. It will be held on the Delta campus of the University of Newcastle's Singapore partner PSB Academy.
The students will compete in a range of activities including 'Hover Frenzy' (using a range of materials to construct a small hovercraft), 'Gold Fever' (constructing a bridge to carry a dynamic load), and 'Job Juggle' (where students are faced with the daily challenges of project engineers and production managers).
"What students take away from the Challenge is an understanding of the value of team work, thinking outside the square, creativity, innovation, and an understanding that learning can be fun," Professor O'Connor said.
The Science and Engineering Challenge is the brainchild of the Faculty of Science and Information Technology and the Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment at the University of Newcastle.
It was created as a way of addressing Australia's skill shortages in the engineering fields by sparking student interest in studying science and engineering-related subjects.
The Challenge won the Engineers Australia National Engineering Excellence Award in 2003 for the best engineering project in Australia. It is supported by local communities through Rotary International, Engineers Australia, and the Department of Education, Science and Training.