Learning how things work
Jacky Cai believes engineers can truly make the world a better place and he has been sharing his passion for science and engineering with local school students.
The 25-year-old graduate in mechatronic engineering, who is part of the Engineering Graduate program of Komatsu Australia, secured a $10,000 grant from the company to talk-up science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in schools across our region.
“It is about STEM concepts and knowledge to regional areas to give more exposure to kids in these areas that otherwise wouldn’t have much of a chance to know about it,” said Jacky.
“I myself am from a regional area and actually didn't know what engineering was until year 10! Once I did know I was so excited by it and it became my passion.”
Jacky partnered with the not-for-profit Engineers Without Borders Australia to deliver the workshops, which focus on the humanitarian challenges that engineers help overcome.
“We teach the kids a bit about what an engineer is — a lot of kids haven't heard even the term engineer or engineering — so we talk about what they are and then we go into humanitarian engineering. So that’s engineering with a community focus, a focus on solving social and environmental challenges using technological solutions.”
One example the children explore in the workshops is designing floating houses as is done in parts of Cambodia.
“The floating house module teaching them about buoyancy and simulates what it's like to be an engineer to be a problem solver come up with a solution focused around the community,” said Jacky, who also likes to point out that engineering is far from a modern field.
“The science and engineering terms and ideas about it are quite new, but it actually goes back tens of thousands of years even in the history of Australia,” he said.
“So, we teach kids about the engineering and science in Aboriginal culture the boomerang for example… We talk about fish traps in Australia, the world’s oldest man-made structure and the Aboriginal people who built them needed to know the concepts behind fish ecology, river hydrology and how to build structures to do that.
“Mainly, we are planting a seed for that passion to learn, planting a seed for wanting to know more, wanting to learn more about how things work and eventually, if it is their passion, hopefully go into one of those STEM fields.”