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Time flies when you’re having fun, and more than 200 students from 11 schools across the Gladstone region did not want the excitement to end this week as they competed in the Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy’s (QMEA) third annual Drone Challenge.
Thanks to support from Shell’s QGC business, students from grades four to nine learned how to program and fly drones, contending for top place in the popular competition delivered by the QMEA, the education arm of the Queensland Resources Council (QRC).
QRC Director of Skills, Education and Diversity, Ms Katrina-Lee Jones said the workshop showcases the many real-world applications of drone technology, aiming to encourage students to pursue a pathway to a rewarding career in the resources industry, particularly in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).
“This challenge was led by about 20 members of Toolooa State High School’s STEM Squad, an innovative program made up of around 80 students from Grades 7 – 10 focussed on increasing students’ STEM knowledge and skills at the school,” Ms Jones said.
“Guided by representatives from Shell’s QGC business and industrial drone experts, Queensland Aerial, students completed a series of activities with real-world applications like supply and logistics, and infrastructure inspections.”
Shell’s QGC business Social Performance Advisor, Ms Nataly Zelayandia, said in addition to putting their planning skills to the test, students worked in teams to bolster their problem-solving, communication and risk management capabilities.
“With an enduring demand for drone pilots, particularly in the resources and energy sector, we want to show students that they can choose a challenging career in an exciting field that incorporates robotics, programming, and problem-solving in the one role,” Ms Zelayandia said.
“The challenge demonstrates how drone technology is evolving and addressing real life challenges.”
“Students were tasked with designing a 3D payload prototype that could be picked up by a drone from a ‘warehouse’ and transporting it to a second point which represented the Curtis Island QGC workshop.”
Toolooa State High School Principal, Mr Justin Harrison said the workshop activities, proudly led by the school’s STEM Squad, taught students drone coding, piloting, and planning.
“It was fantastic to see the students enjoy themselves across two days of separate workshops, and the crowd favourite was clearly the pilot training component where students had to navigate their drones safely between different obstacles around the room,” Mr Harrison said.
“Assisted by training videos developed by our school’s very own STEM Squad, the teams of students eagerly tested their speed and accuracy by flying a drone around a six-metre taped circuit as many times as they could in four minutes.”
The Drone Challenge is a partnership between Shell’s QGC business and QMEA. The social investment program is supported by Shell’s joint venture partners Tokyo Gas and CNOOC, contributing to strong, liveable communities across the Western Downs and Gladstone regions.
As Australia’s largest and most successful industry-led education and schools 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 vocational and professional careers, with a focus on female and Indigenous participation. The QMEA currently engages with 90 schools and is a partnership between the QRC and the Queensland Government under its Gateway to Industry Schools program.