• The program was adapted into a virtual format to engage the students in their journey through the program. (supplied)
    The program was adapted into a virtual format to engage the students in their journey through the program. (supplied)

RDA Hunter’s STEM Defence + Innovation program ended on a high with 13 incredible Year 10 and 11 students from the Hunter region pitching their inventions to a panel of esteemed judges via a live webcast.

The webcast was the result of a two-month long business acumen program created by RDA Hunter in partnership with The Business Centre. While COVID-19 has disrupted traditional forms of learning in 2020, the program was adapted into a virtual format to engage the students in their journey through the program.

Students participating in the 2020 program included Max Daniels, Darcy Killen, Jack Fraser, Angus Clayton, James Fry, Jack Humphreys, Lillian Harding, Toby Avery, Jayden Voigt-Robertson, Breanna Markey, Amelie McGarry, Jodie Meredith and Ellie Marquet.

Some of the amazing inventions pitched by the students included an Auto Ironing Machine, a Backpack Esky, fully customised Aquaponic Grow System, Multi-Method Manufacturing Kit, a Mental Health app focusing on PTSD, renewable energy solution using household greywater and solar powered portable charging box. Each invention met the judging criteria of having a Defence application.

The students from Hunter River High School, St Philip’s Christian College Waratah and Newcastle Grammar School impressed the judging panel consisting of Officer Commanding Tactical Fighter Systems Program Officer, Group Captain David Abraham, Regional Director for Hunter Region for Boeing Defence Australia, Claire Kluge and Hunter region local entrepreneur, Kate Lyall.

Group Captain David Abraham has participated as a judge in each iteration of the program over the last three years and said, it was rewarding to witness and encourage the students and schools involved in the program.

“Not only have each of the different student groups grappled with and developed a STEM inspired product, they have more importantly grown their own STEM and business acumen skills and are well on the way to becoming the future STEM leaders that Australia needs,” Group Captain Abraham said.

The expert team from The Business Centre provided the students with the skills and knowledge to innovate and commercialise their ideas.

“This is our favourite event and program, the whole team at The Business Centre this year led by Lena Vestad Hansen were once again blown away by the sheer imagination and capability of this year’s participants," Steve Wait CEO of The Business Centre said. "It not only gives us confidence that the future of entrepreneurship and innovation is in good hands in a time so much disruption."

The STEM Defence + Innovation program is an activity of RDA Hunter’s Department of Defence funded ME Program and developed in partnership with The Business Centre to advance the innovation of Hunter region students.

“We congratulate all the participants of this year’s program for their innovative ideas, their dedication to developing them into prototypes and their pitching skills,” said RDA Hunter’s Director of Regional Development and Executive Officer, Trevor John.

“Activities such as STEM Defence + Innovation help build a homegrown Hunter workforce with industry-relevant skills and knowledge. Our close collaborations with the Hunter’s defence industry introduces students to opportunities in the important sector, helps build the local talent pool and contributes to regional growth."

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