Young innovators tackle industry challenge

Young innovators tackle industry challenge

Fifteen local high school students spent their school holidays designing an innovative technological solution to a materials handling problem at Rio Tinto Yarwun.

The innovation challenge, which was a partnership between Startup Gladstone Inc. and Rio Tinto, took place as a four-day bootcamp where students learned robotics design and programming, design thinking, entrepreneurial skills and pitch mechanics, as they solved a real-world problem.

Their task was to make a prototype of an automated conveyor belt solution that will process alumina, rejecting alumina that was too wet, too dry, too large or too fine.

The bootcamp culminated in a Shark Tank-style event where student teams pitched their solution to a panel of judges, and were assessed on their solution design, cost effectiveness, programming efficacy, team interactions, communication and innovation aspects of their solution.

Education Mentor Dr Cal Devney said the students’ presentations were outstanding, and surpassed expectations.

“The professionalism shown by the participants was top notch,” she said.

“Most of the students did not know each other prior to the event and over four days they formed teams, designed, programmed and implemented working prototypes of their industry solutions, and presented their solutions to a panel of industry experts.”

Students were supported through the bootcamp by mentors including retired engineer Malcolm Leinster, Mechatronics Engineer Russell Jorgensen, Jason Lowe, Master Principal Consultant at Oracle, and Rio Tinto Yarwun’s Jim Davies and Brent Hadaway.

“Thank you to all the challenge participants, their parents, industry mentors and of course Rio Tinto Yarwun,” Dr Devney said.

“Rio’s generous in-kind contributions provided a great platform for students to learn from industry professionals, and helped them gain confidence to use innovation to solve problems they encounter in the future.”

Startup Gladstone is a not-for-profit with a mission to empower the next generation of entrepreneurs through technology and innovation.

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Winning Team

Amanda Evans, Cassie Hartley, Maddyson La Cioppa and Farida Radwan.

Chosen based on functionality. The team applied the best logical approach to a functional design that achieved the challenge task. Their pitch was professional, thorough and financially viable, the cost of the solution balanced the projected output.