Broadening horizons - STEM education

School based science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education programs are a fantastic opportunity for children to explore the construction industry and embrace their creativity while considering future careers in civil construction.  Enter our joint venture team on the SA Water Frameworks project in South Australia.

Our Capital Delivery Water North team – the McConnell Dowell Diona Joint Venture (MDJV) – was recently approached by Brighton Primary School to participate in a STEM program for year 6 students. Our Morgan to Whyalla pipeline replacement project (MWP) provided the perfect foundation for an ‘in-design’ STEM project for these young and eager students.

Over the past few months, members of the MWP Water North team have been mentoring the students over several sessions at the school and also facilitated a site visit to the pipeline.

MDJV Communications and Stakeholder Engagement Manager Lauren Gardner said the entire team saw this as an opportunity to connect with future customers.

‘It also broadens the horizons of these young students to career opportunities in the water and STEM industries,’ Lauren said.

In the first session, students were introduced to the project and had the opportunity to ask our team questions to help identify the problem they needed to solve. During this presentation our team also introduced their specific roles, responsibilities, and their educational backgrounds, providing an insight for students into the different pathways and opportunities in STEM-based careers.

Students were then placed in small role-specific technical groups and over the coming months were required to identify and define the problem of replacing the pipeline and come up with solutions.

Students present their solutions for replacement of the pipeline

All 100 students were eager for the on-site visit where they were able to touch, feel and listen to the pipeline, learning about its history and how many customers it services.

Water North Framework Manager Marc Doyle said they were all were impressed with the unique and insightful questions posed by the students.

‘They had all clearly conducted methodical researched prior to each of our sessions and all demonstrated solutions that were cohesive of thinking outside the box. This experience personally for me was extremely rewarding seeing their bright minds flourish and collaborative working together in their teams – some future industry leaders were present in the room that’s for sure,’ Marc said.

The team was invited back to the school in September to see the culmination of the many months’ work where a selection of the student teams presented their solutions for the replacement of the pipeline.

‘As is often the case with mentoring relationships, our people are gaining a lot through their roles as mentors, and the students have been making the most of the opportunity to learn from industry professionals,’ said Water North’s Portfolio Manager Mario Borrello.

Children listening to the pipeline