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Nathan Sawicki Nathan Sawicki Written by Nathan Sawicki, Read the recent blogs posts , press releases and news written by Nathan Sawicki
on 21 Dec 2016

For a global company like Cyient, it's easy to be drawn into the macro trends that are shaping our society as a whole. The importance of training our young people in the areas of STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) has being spoken of ad nausea.

Through Cyient's support of the RACV Energy Breakthrough - an annual schools event held in Maryborough in Victoria, Australia - we're supporting the next generation in their efforts to push the boundaries in science, technology and engineering in a way that is hands-on and importantly, fun.

Asking questions, seeking answers

"We're delighted to have Cyient join our program as a partner." John Stafford, Convenor, RACV Energy Breakthrough said. "Since 1991, the RACV Energy Breakthrough program has been engaging school students and their communities in responding to the technology, environmental and engineering questions that we pose for them."

Questions like:

  • How do you make a vehicle travel as far as possible for 24 hours on three litres of fuel, limited batteries or pedal power?
  • How do you make a craft sail across a water tank without using fossil fuels?
  • How do you make a pushcart that can be assembled in twenty minutes solely by primary school aged student.
  • "We believe that if young people begin responding to these questions they will become great engineers with innovative companies like Cyient in the future." John added.

Collaborate, build, race

The Energy Breakthrough challenges school students to collaborate with their teachers, parents and local industry to create a machine that represents an 'energy breakthrough.'

There are a host of challenges on offer, but one that caught the eye of the Cyient team was the 24 hour circuit race for human and hybrid powered vehicles.

Vehicles are constructed in school workshops and family sheds across the country. Materials used range from humble coreflute and mild steel to carbon fibre, Kevlar and titanium.

The Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV) prepares a set of vehicle specifications that sets out the rules that each vehicle must comply with.At the event, every vehicle is scrutineered before they hit the track.

Sunday Wrap (features Ormeau State High)RACV Energy Breakthrough 2016 - Sunday Daily Wrap

997 kilometres in 24 hours

The team from Ormeau State High School from the Gold Coast in Queensland, took line honours in the 24 hour trial by completed 567 laps of the 1.76 kilometre circuit, covering an amazing 997 kilometres.

Their vehicle's design combined a highly efficient electric motor and a limited supply of batteries (as per the rules) with good old fashioned pedal power.

"We've trained really hard as a group throughout the year and to have it all come together here at the event and for us to have broken the distance and lap records is pretty amazing."

More than a race

It's not just a race though - students are also assessed through a 20 minute formal presentation to a judging panel and their knowledge of their vehicle's design and construction. Each component contributes to their overall score, with 25% for Display & Presentation, 25% for Design & Construction and 50% for Trial components.

Cyient on show at the Energy Expo

In partnership with the Bendigo Science and Discovery Centre, Cyient offered families the chance to take part in hands-on engineering challenge as part of the event's on-site Energy Expo.

Beyond the Breakthrough

Beyond the Breakthrough, past participants have gone on to careers in audio and lighting engineers, landscapers, orthotic technicians, civil engineers, automotive mechanics, electricians, outdoor education instructors, fire fighters, Royal Australian Flying Doctors, Navy, marketers and physiotherapist.

Each credit the Energy Breakthrough program as a stepping stone towards their career choice and own personal development.

One such product of this program is Chris Crowe, who now works with PWR Performance Products as an engineer. Chris makes radiators & cooling products for a range of motorsport categories, including Formula 1.

"It was always inspiring to see the team develop over the course of a year," Chris explained. "Energy Breakthrough gave us a competitive end objective and enabled us to explore and push the boundaries of our skills, knowledge and fitness."

"When I talk to people about the EB, I always emphasise the fantastic opportunity it creates to apply what you learn from the classroom into a real world challenge."

Bridging the knowledge gap

As the partnership enters its second year, Cyient look forward to working more closely with students and teachers throughout the year as they prepare their machines. Cyient's provision of mentors and hosting of webinars by subject matter experts are two possibilities that would see knowledge shared and capacity built.

RACV Energy Breakthrough - By The Numbers:

  • Four days of judging, testing and trialling
  • 150 schools
  • 375 teams
  • 8,000 students and teachers participating
  • 12,000 spectators, friends and family
  • 997 kms covered in 24 hours by the leading team of eight riders from Ormeau State High School in Queensland. Their vehicle was powered by pedal, an electric motor and a limited battery supply.

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