Need for more engineering students

ROSE GOLD RACERS: From left are Freya Norman, Lia Eacher, Ella Scott and Beth Copeland from Kings Meadows High School.
ROSE GOLD RACERS: From left are Freya Norman, Lia Eacher, Ella Scott and Beth Copeland from Kings Meadows High School.

As Launceston teams Golden Diversity and Envisity head to Malaysia this week to represent Australia in the F1 in Schools Challenge world finals, the state’s engineering industry will be hoping they can continue their momentum into a career.

The international plight of the teams comes as data released from Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development indicated less students were choosing to study engineering at a tertiary level in Australia.

Whereas the industry had an average 17 per cent share of adult graduates internationally, in Australia the average was 11 per cent.

Tasmania could feel the pinch more than others, with about 40 per cent of state’s engineering workforce set to retire in the next seven years.

The disparity between the number of graduates and the growth in job vacancies is the subject of Engineers Australia’s Tasmanian Workforce Development Plan.

Launched in May, the initiative was created in conjunction with the state government, who provided almost $30,000 to develop the plan and a further $50,000 to establish the Workforce Development Advisory Group.

Engineers Australia’s Tasmanian General Manager, Dr Vicki Gardiner said the gender make up of the industry was a chief concern for the group.

“Only 8 per cent of Tasmanian engineers are female, while nationally it is 13 per cent,” she said.

“We are looking to change the language of what an engineer does.

“Engineering is about building communities and connecting people, and there are a range of different industries it ties into.

“It’s not an obvious profession, but it is underpinned by the STEM subjects.”

The flow on effect from the success of Queechy High School’s Golden Diversity girls may have already begun, with an increased number of female participants in Thursday’s F1 in Schools state finals on Thursday.

Among them were the Rose Gold Racers from Kings Meadow High School.

Team member Ella Scott said the camaraderie of the competition led them to sign up.

“We liked the idea of working together as a team,” she said.

“I would consider doing this type of project again.”

Launceston will host the national finals of the F1 in Schools Technology Challenge next March.