Pictured: A Youth Outreach workshop at a primary school in Western Australia.
From Busselton on the southwest edge of Australia to the Torres Strait Islands in the far north, EWB Australia’s Regioneering program sprung well and truly back into action in 2022.Through week-long road trips, Regioneering inspires students in regional and remote areas, a cohort that often misses out on STEM outreach initiatives, to engage with STEM and consider the possibilities of a career in engineering.
For many EWB Australia Chapters, these trips have been on hold over the past few years due to pandemic-related restrictions. With road trips and incursions possible again across the country, EWB Australia’s Regioneers have enthusiastically returned.
Travelling far and wide
In 2022, more than 100 volunteers from EWB Australia’s University Chapters packed their bags and took to the road, and air, to inspire the next generation of socio-technical engineers.
They engaged with more than 4,200 school students, taking them through hands-on workshops that explore real-life scenarios; like creating water filtration systems, appropriate housing and renewable energy systems.
The workshops are designed to be a fun experience for students to reflect on how engineers contribute positively to society and the possibilities that could exist for them in a STEM profession. Facilitated by diverse groups of engineering university students, they showcase a wide variety of engineering disciplines – sharing what an engineer can look like and what they can do – particularly the positive impact engineers can have on people, communities and the world.
With support from RS Group, a global solutions provider, the volunteer facilitators delivered workshops in schools in the Illawarra, Central Tablelands, Central Coast, mid North Coast, and Hunter regions of New South Wales, in Victoria’s Gippsland region, in the Torres Strait Islands, South West Western Australia, and South West and Far North Queensland.
“[The trip] has made me recognise the importance of programs like these to rural areas. For these kids, this might be the only [chance they have to explore] engineering before leaving school, so these programs are super important in showing the students the possibility of a career in STEM,” reflected one of the EWB Chapter volunteers.
Showing that engineering is for all
Along with a focus on reaching students living in regional or remote areas, the program also aims to engage other cohorts that are underrepresented in STEM professions, such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, women, and people from lower socioeconomic areas. The results from this year’s participants were heartening.
14.2% of students who participated in South West WA identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. Following the workshop, those students reported an average increase of 17.4% when asked to rate how interested they are in science or engineering as a career, compared to their response before the workshop. An increase of 18.1% was recorded for the same question for students identifying as female – both above the average increase for all students (16.3%).
One student from that South West WA trip commented, “I like that you guys told me that not just men can be an engineer.” Another said, “I know now what I want to grow up to be – I want to grow up to be an engineer, one that makes the big fans that produce energy for the world.”
Connecting with purpose
Along with the impact on school students, Regioneering provides an environment for engineering university students who are passionate about making a difference in the community to connect with like-minded peers. It also provides the opportunity for volunteers to develop their skills in facilitation, public speaking and leadership.
“This trip provided me with amazing opportunities to interact with kids from different backgrounds and share my experiences and love of STEM with them. It allowed me to develop my confidence in running workshops alongside a fantastic and enthusiastic team. This trip has empowered me to do more outreach, volunteering, and become more involved in EWB!” – EWB Chapter Regioneering Volunteer
RS Group’s support of the Regioneering program has also provided the opportunity for University Chapter volunteers to gain important skills for working with diverse communities before embarking on their Regioneering trips. Enabled by RS Group, a training course was developed in 2022 which guides Regioneers through topics such as challenging assumptions and biases, creating positive relationships and engaging inclusive, accessible and effective ways.
Planning is currently underway for the next round of Regioneering trips, which take place in winter 2023.
To learn more about EWB Australia’s Outreach programs and to see how you could be involved, click here.
EWB Australia would like to thank RS Group for their support of Regioneering.