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Year 7 students from three Mackay schools were immersed in the world of hydraulic design today, at a workshop facilitated by the Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy (QMEA) and supported by BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA).

Attended by 32 students from Mackay, Mackay Northern Beaches and Pioneer State High Schools, the ‘Heavy Hydraulics’ workshop involved STEM professionals from BHP and BMA working alongside the participants.

The workshop, held at Mackay’s Resources Centre of Excellence, led students through aspects of the design thinking process and the use of technology in engineering projects as they built a model hydraulic arm, then designed and constructed a vehicle for the arm.

QMEA’s Manager of Skills and Education, Matthew Heskett, said that the students were challenged and entertained by the task, while learning about opportunities available in the sector. “There are thousands of jobs currently advertised Australia-wide for mining engineers and hydraulics specialists,” said Matthew. “This workshop enabled students to hone their design thinking skills and opened their eyes to real-world career possibilities.”

“We know that young people learn best when given the chance to apply knowledge and skills in a meaningful way. Workshops like this aim to give students a better handle on the types of careers available and show them how they can channel their own interests and strengths once they leave school,” Matthew explained.

BMA Hay Point Coal Terminal’s General Manager Mel Johnson said that their representatives were enthusiastic about mentoring students at the workshop. “All professionals were once at high school themselves, learning what interested them and working out where they might go after graduating. Our BHP and BMA mentors enjoyed meeting these young people, answering their questions and sharing insights into their careers in the resources sector.”

As Australia’s largest and most successful industry-led education and skills training initiative, the QMEA seeks to broaden student and teacher knowledge of career opportunities in resources. The academy encourages a talent pipeline of employees into VET and STEM-related careers, with a focus on female and Indigenous participation. The QMEA currently engages with 80 schools and is a partnership with the Queensland Government under its Gateway to Industry Schools program.

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