Full STEaM Ahead Program – Engineers Australia

On Monday 16 October, Tiffany Miller (a fellow Padua College, Mornington student) and I attended the first day of the ‘Full STEaM Ahead Program’ which invited Year 10 females to attend a week-long course about engineering. In conjunction with AKORN educational services and Engineers Australia we were able to learn, with the help of guest speakers, that many Australians live with a disability, whether this be physical or mental.

From there we formed groups and brainstormed an idea that we could somehow engineer to solve a problem that a person with a disability may face.

Our group decided to make a mechanical arm which would allow someone who was either an amputee, or born with missing limbs or perhaps didn’t have much dexterity or with limited muscle movement, to hold a pen and write with it. After further consideration, we found decided it must be adjustable as not everyone has the same needs and this would make the device much more versatile.

We had to think about all the different things the device could be used for. We realised that art therapy, especially in special development school, would aid from this device as it allows students to do a similar project at the same time, not only making the students feel more included but making easy for the teachers.

We designed all the components for our device on a 3D printing software and were lucky enough to have some 3D printers supplied to the course form the company Alloy. From there the device was easily assembled and then on the last day of the course, Friday 20 October, we presented our working prototype to an audience made up of parents, teachers, engineers and others with disabilities.

This was such great experience as we were able to work with real people that had disabilities and see all the struggles they face. We also had real engineers on hand to bounce ideas off, which was highly beneficial for our product’s growth.

Written By: Grace Ronchi, Year 10 Chisholm