Next generation of Indigenous engineers tackle fire issues

Jennifer Shand Jennifer Shand Australasia Press Office,Sydney
15 January 2020

A group of Indigenous high school students will be working on plans for a fire-resistant community centre alongside Arup specialists this week, simulating an all-too-real scenario.

The 25 students will experience the challenges engineers can confront and the valuable contributions they can make to communities, as part of their exposure to engineering as a career.

Arup’s David Harding explained: “When we planned the workshop, we didn’t anticipate the design exercise would become so immediately relevant, in such terrible circumstances.

“Now the session will be an insight into what engineers around the country will be doing as part of the bushfire recovery - rebuilding and safeguarding communities.

“We hope they are inspired by working on ideas with our building specialists, environmental scientists and transport engineers.”

Students will see the many ways engineers can be involved in projects - from site choice and layout plans, to building materials, safety, energy and water systems, environmental protection and budgets, as well as community consultation. ”

David Harding David Harding Australasia Transport Developments Leader

The Arup workshop is part of a week-long programme, the Indigenous Australian Engineering School, run by Engineering Aid Australia and the University of Sydney to encourage indigenous students to become engineers by spending time with experienced professionals.

“Many participants from previous programmes have gone on to study engineering or related courses, sharing with us how impactful and life-changing the programme has been in inspiring their tertiary education choices,” said John McKillop, Director and CEO of Engineering Aid Australia.

For noting: Arup worked pro bono with other consultants to provide a new Community Hall for the central Victorian town of Narbethong after the Black Saturday fires. The replacement centre is made of floor-to-ceiling double glazing wrapped in a bronze mesh fire-resistant screen.