Engineering the future - totally oarsome! Wednesday, 05 June 2019

Five budding young engineers from across Australia have won awards at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in the US, showing that dedication and tenacity definitely pay off.

The fab five – Lucy Lake, Ivy Brain, Mitchell Torok, Callum Predavec and Macinley Butson - already had accolades to their names as BHP Foundation Science and Engineering Award finalists. The students hail from schools in small towns of 300 people right up to city-based institutions and hold interests in engineering, technology, biology, health and chemistry.

Lucy Lake won the Engineering Mechanics Second Award having created a new high performance rowing oar. Inspired by biomimicry, Lucy studied the bumps on whale flippers to improve her oar's design. But as most people will tell you, it's often a long way to the top before you get to rock the boat's oars.

Despite multiple setbacks, Lucy spent a year developing and manufacturing the oar. During that time, when she conducted her first on-water trail, a malfunction with the section connecting the oar to the boat caused Lucy to lose one of her blades in the ocean.

However, tenacity paid off and Lucy won second place in the engineering category at the national BHP Foundation Science and Engineering Awards last year.

“It makes me realise that what I’ve done is no longer just about myself, it’s about the bigger picture," Lucy said, spoken like a true engineer.

"It has been amazing to have all these opportunities to push my project further than I’ve ever thought and develop it into something bigger and better."

Lucy was in good company at the US engineering fair, with Macinley Butson receiving the Translational Medical Science Second Award and the China Association for Science and Technology (CAST) Award for her SMART System project. Mitchell Torok and Ivy Brain took out the Embedded Systems Fourth Award for their project, aWear, and Callum Predavec received the Mathematics Fourth Award for his Planetary Transfer Calculator. 

See yourself on the engineering winners' podium? CSIRO's Creativity in Research, Engineering, Science and Technology (CREST) program is where you can make a start.