Senate debates

Tuesday, 13 March 2012


F1 in Schools

7:28 pm

Photo of Cory BernardiCory Bernardi (SA, Liberal Party, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary Assisting the Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise tonight to speak about a wonderful and worth while initiative called the F1 in Schools program. I have had the privilege to play a very small part in this program over the last three years, presenting awards at the national finals and having had the exciting opportunity of meeting with the teams to see their fantastic work. F1 in Schools, also known as the Formula One Technology Challenge, is a program for high school students worldwide that aims to get students learning about engineering and design. Teams use industry level technologies to design, test, manufacture and race miniature Formula One cars. It is not all about engineering, though. Students are set many challenges, such as public speaking, project planning, graphic design, manufacturing, resource procurement and sponsorship and marketing. I consider it to be an effective incubator for our future entrepreneurs. Whilst there are short-term goals, such as building the car and competing in the heats and the finals, F1 in Schools also has very important long-term goals. The program connects students to the engineering industry and it helps to inspire them to pursue careers in engineering. But the benefits for participants go far beyond a career in that field. The skills they learn can be applied to almost any future endeavour. In Australia, F1 in Schools is an initiative of Re-Engineering Australia, a not-for-profit organisation committed to teaching students about engineering and design in exciting and challenging ways. Other support is also received from government, industry, community groups and local schools.

The F1 in Schools program is a worldwide competition. More than 20 countries participate in it. Participants come from Europe, Africa, North America, South America, Middle East and Australasia. Every year students progress through regional, state and national finals. The program offers each team a chance to learn from other teams and to meet industry representatives. The best Australian team goes on to compete in the world championship.

The 2012 national finals just took place, and I was lucky enough to be there. I am immensely proud to report that a team from my home state of South Australia was crowned the national champion in the professional class. The Brighton Secondary School team, which went by the name of Cold Fusion, also had the fastest average car time.

Photo of Don FarrellDon Farrell (SA, Australian Labor Party, Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and Urban Water) Share this | | Hansard source

A very good school.

Photo of Cory BernardiCory Bernardi (SA, Liberal Party, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary Assisting the Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

Indeed, Senator Farrell, it is a very good school, and I thank you for your contribution. Members of Cold Fusion are: Jane Burton, team manager and graphic designer; Jake Grant, resource manager; Michelle Lennon, manufacturing engineer; Henry Lynch, industry relations; Thomas Agars, innovation manager; and Spencer Olds, design engineer. They were all very successful and diligent in their approach. Earlier, during the state finals, Cold Fusion won seven of the eight awards. They were crowned state champions, and they won best engineered car, the innovation award, outstanding industry collaboration, best portfolio, fastest qualifying lap and the grand prix. Cold Fusion were also very successful at the national competition, winning the overall award in the professional class. Cold Fusion will now head to the world finals later this year to represent their school, their state and their country in an exciting contest.

Of course none of this success was achieved without a number of challenges. While designing the car, the team faced these challenges with diligence, applied the skills that they had learned and learned some new skills along the way to overcome them. They had to design the fastest possible car while complying with a rigorous set of rules, just like Formula One. They had to ensure that the car was strong enough and light enough to race. They had to add lines of computer code when writing numerically controlled codes for the car's machinery. This was not just putting a couple of wheels on a block of balsa wood. It was a diligent and comprehensive process that these young men and women did with aplomb.

The positive experience for Cold Fusion is reflected by the entire F1 in Schools program. Through F1 in Schools students are able to work with people from industry and get a firsthand look at what it is like to work in engineering. Attending the state and national finals provides them with a chance to meet with other teams and learn about different concepts and different designs. Now the students from Brighton Secondary School, the team Cold Fusion, will head to the world finals later this year to represent their school, their state and their country. I know they will do so with distinction, because they have already done those of us from South Australia very proud. I wish them all the best.