Aldridge high wins back-to-back titles

By Jocelyn Watts

Aldridge State High School has won this year’s USQ Fraser Coast Science and Engineering Challenge regional title for the second consecutive year.

The team of Years 9 and 10 students clocked up 1164 points throughout the day to edge out Xavier Catholic College (1083) and Fraser Coast Anglican College (942) for the chance to compete at the Super Challenge Series in Townsville later this year.

Aldridge’s head of Science Department Iain Carson said he was thrilled this year’s students had continued the school’s winning streak of three out of four years (2010, 2012 and 2013).

“Congratulations to all our students and thank you to everyone who participated.”

In the bridge-building section, Aldridge State High School team of Natasha Donnelly, Jessica Karrasch and Rahni Smoother took out first place, narrowly beating the efforts of the community team – USQ Fraser Coast’s campus executive manager Brett Langabeer, Robert MacGibbon from Engineers Australia, Fraser Coast Mayor Gerard O’Connell and Rotary exchange student Emma Hansen from Denmark – whose bridge would have won had it been just four grams lighter.

USQ Fraser Coast event co-ordinator Stephanie Bayley said “This year’s regional challenge was a fantastic event. It was great to get feedback from volunteers that our students were enthusiastic and focused on their tasks.”

The day started early with volunteers from the combined Rotary clubs of Hervey Bay helping USQ Fraser Coast and University of Newcastle staff to set up.  At 9.30am everything was ready for the students to arrive.

Mr Langabeer and Ms Bayley thanked all those involved in the challenge, in particular the University of Newcastle and the combined Rotary Clubs of Hervey Bay.

The challenge is recognized, both at home and abroad, as an innovative way of raising young people’s awareness of the career opportunities in science and engineering. In 2003 the challenge was awarded The Sir William Hudson Award for Engineering Excellence and it has since been recognised by the International Institute of Physics based in London.

Aldridge State High School has secured a prestigious prize indeed.

2013 Science & Engineering Challenge

St Mary’s Catholic College students Dannielle Tarlinton (left), Annie Tanwan, Elara Crook and Caitlin Fergus build their bridge.


Robert MacGibbon from Engineers Australia, USQ Fraser Coast’s campus executive manager Brett Langabeer and (back to camera) Rotary exchange student Emma Hansen from Denmark and Fraser Coast Mayor Gerard O’Connell work on their bridge.


Xavier Catholic College students watch nerviously as their bridge is tested.

This Inspiring Australia initiative is supported by the Australian Government through the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education and supported locally by Engineers Australia, Tony McVey Pty Ltd, Wide Bay Water, Fraser Coast Regional Council, and Opus.


Hervey Bay High School students Kaitlyn Bates (left), Monica Boulton and Louise Court on the Electra City activity. Photos: JOCELYN WATTS