Boeing sets engineering challenge for young Queensland women
June 6, 2017
A Boeing Defence Australia workshop aimed at encouraging female students to pursue engineering has taken flight during the University of Queensland Women in Engineering - Explore Engineering Day.
Facilitated by two of Boeing’s early career Structures / Mechanical engineers, Louisa Lee and Angelika Schuck, the ‘Take Flight with Boeing’ workshop challenged students in years 9 to 12 to engineer a solution that would safely return a delicate interstellar payload, represented by an egg, back to Earth.
Boeing Defence Australia Human Resources Director Melissa Davidson said events such as this were an important part of Boeing Defence Australia’s role in closing the gender gap when it comes to female participation in STEM industries.
“As the largest aerospace company in the world, Boeing has an important role to play in promoting awareness of women engineers, and encouraging women to study engineering in universities,” said Davidson.
Schuck and Lee said the challenge provided high school students with the opportunity to exercise systems engineering principles and consider the product development lifecycle including concept development through to design, materials selection, prototyping, and test and evaluation.
“We ensured the students observed and analysed new scientific principles including crumple zones, the effects of drag, calculation of the energy of the system and how that energy behaves throughout delivery,” said Schuck.
Lee added that the task was designed to mimic real-world challenges, making the students “purchase” materials for their prototype and applying financial penalties for late delivery of milestones.
“The teams were given freedom to form subcontracts with other teams or to become suppliers of products. We even ensured the prices fluctuated with supply and demand, exposing the students to some of the challenges of creating a competitive and effective product with limited resources,” said Lee.
While six of the 10 designs saw the eggstronaut return safely back to Earth, the major achievement for Schuck and Lee was inspiring tomorrow’s young female engineers to shoot for the stars.