Behind the wheel at the Toyota Centre of Excellence

By | News

By Zach Wingrave

Everybody, start your engines! Specifically, the hydrogen ones.

Back in May, our intrepid Program Manager Nicole and I had the thrill and the pleasure of visiting and touring Toyota Australia’s incredible Centre of Excellence facility in Altona, in Melbourne’s south-west. The event was organised by the Toyota Community Trust, a generous initiative that is committed to giving back to the wider Melbourne community in several key areas, from education to renewable energy to traffic safety, and of which In2science is a proud beneficiary.

Located on the site of Toyota’s last operating manufacturing plant in Australia, the Centre of Excellence now stands as a testament to our history of automotive engineering. Entering the foyer, we were instantly greeted by the first and the last cars built by Toyota in Australia; a 1963 Tiara 1500 Sedan, and a 2017 Camry Atara SX 5A. The slim lines and aerodynamic curves of the Camry were in stark contrast to the boxy, rectangular outfitting on the Tiara, perfectly capturing the shift in design thinking and aesthetics over just 54 years of development.

The excitement didn’t stop there! Despite manufacturing ending in 2017, work has not ceased at the Altona plant. In addition to housing the Community Trust, the facility continues to maintain a staff of product designers, engineers, and trade specialists. In fact, the Toyota Hilux, a staple workhorse around the globe, is designed right here in Melbourne! We learned this as part of a secretive behind-the-scenes tour of the product design and prototyping factory floor, where I was surprised to learn that clay moulding is still the industry standard method of refining the design and symmetry of a modern vehicle – with the help of 3D modelling and multi-million dollar scanning and printing equipment of course! Excitingly, one of our very own In2science Leaders has commenced a part-time role at this very facility, which you can read about in our companion article by Rachel Ella.

The afternoon brought the most thrilling component of our visit: an opportunity to test drive some of Toyota’s latest vehicles on the in-house test track, including a variety of hybrid and electric vehicles. Chief among these was the Gen 1 Mirai, a wholly unique vehicle in that it is powered by Hydrogen Fuel Cell technology. The science behind the process was fascinating. As explained by one of Toyota’s hydrogen research specialists, hydrogen is stored as a gas inside three tanks within the vehicle. This gas is slowly introduced to the fuel cell under the bonnet, which combines with oxygen taken in through the front grille during motion and, through a process known as reverse electrolysis, generates electricity and a single by-product: water expelled as vapour through the exhaust.

While Toyota acknowledged that fully electric vehicles are the future of renewable energy in motor vehicles for now (there are only three hydrogen refuelling stations in the entire country as of today), the prospect of a car that requires nothing but two of the most naturally abundant elements in the world and which produces naught but 335 Newton-metres of torque and a harmless spray of water by way of exhaust makes this newly-minted car nerd very, very excited about the future of motoring.

Besides learning about Toyota’s latest research and efforts to support the industry in Australia, the opportunity to network with like-minded organisations also funded by the Toyota Community Trust was a highlight of the day. Nicole and I met some truly inspiring people and were able to foster some new collaborations. Each organisation in attendance presented on the outstanding work they do and how Toyota is helping to make that happen. Without their generous contribution, important aspects of In2science, such as the Mentor Leaders Program and Awards Night, wouldn’t even make it off the starting grid. In2science thanks the Toyota Community Trust for their ongoing support and interest in our wonderful program. 

When opportunity knocks – a mentoring success story!

By | News, Profiles

By Rachel Ella

The story begins with Jaidyn, a Bachelor of Engineering student at RMIT University, who joined In2science in 2021 after meeting Will, the RMIT Program Coordinator at the time, at an online engineering expo. Jaidyn was immediately attracted to the In2science program because he was fortunate enough to be mentored in years 7 and 8 by his science teacher who “seeded” his interest in STEM. Jaidyn wanted to pay this experience forward, so he applied to be an In2science mentor.

During a successful placement at South Oakleigh College Jaidyn applied to be a part of our 2022 Mentor Leaders Program (MLP). The MLP is generously supported by Toyota Community Trust, and you can find out more about the amazing work they do in this companion article by Zach Wingrave. The MLP “flips the script” and the mentor becomes the mentee of an industry STEM Professional. Over a period of 8 months our In2science mentees had the opportunity to have regular meetings with their STEM Professional mentor to discuss career paths, interview techniques, resume writing, how to stand out in a crowd, and personal branding, among many other topics. Jaidyn took this opportunity with both hands and ran with it.

Jaidyn was paired with Dennis, Studio Engineering and Milling Manager at Toyota Australia. They shared a common interest in automotive engineering and a love of motorsport. Their meetings were held at the Toyota Centre of Excellence in Altona. During their meetings Jaidyn and Dennis would discuss Jaidyn’s career pathways, dissecting Jaidyn’s complicated thoughts about his future, as well as his presentation (resume building, interview skills, etc.) and his motorsport branding – Jaidyn is a passionate amateur rally driver. At the conclusion of the MLP in November last year, Jaidyn and Dennis spoke at our Wrap-up Event, describing the success of their mentoring relationship and the positive steps Jaidyn had taken in both his career path and personal branding in his motorsport pursuits. They also announced that Jaidyn had been offered a six-week internship at Toyota Australia as a Studio Engineering Coordinator in January 2023!

During the internship Jaidyn had “involvement in hand-clay modelling, 3D surface modelling for preparation of full-scale car, part design and prototyping and project management/Toyota design principles.” This is what Dennis had to say about Jaidyn at the completion of his internship:

“After being Jaidyn’s mentor last year, I got to know him very well and was impressed with his drive and passion. With the strong support from Toyota management, we were able to offer him the experience to temporarily work as Studio Engineer inside our design studio. He got exposed to all the different areas within our team; understanding not only the design‐thinking and development process, but also how Toyota approaches problems and works closely together to solve them. This is why I joined the In2science Mentor Leaders Program ‐ to give back to young STEM students and create motivated engineering leaders with real‐world experience.”

At the end of May 2023, Jaidyn commenced a part-time contract position as a Design Engineer to assist the Toyota Design Australia team with their sustainable development goals. This is what Jaidyn had to say just prior to commencing this position, about the opportunities he has been given:

“Surely, these opportunities would not have been presented if not for the generosity of Dennis, Toyota Design Australia, and the organisation of the student-mentor and MLP programs provided by In2science. For that, I truly am grateful and will continue to enjoy the student-mentor program and work hard when I start on Monday!”

So, the moral of the story… have the confidence to take your opportunities when they come your way. They may not come around a second time!

Thank you to Toyota Australia, Katarina Persic, and the team at Toyota Community Trust for their continued support of In2science and the MLP. A big thank you to Dennis for giving his time and expertise to mentor Jaidyn as part of the MLP. And congratulations to Jaidyn for having the confidence to back himself and work hard to attain the position he now holds at Toyota Australia. We hope you are proud of your achievements… I know we certainly are!

Awards Night – celebrating achievements in 2022!

By | Awards, Events, News

In2science’s gala event, our annual Awards Night, returned to Science Gallery Melbourne in December 2022. Mentors, students, teachers, government and industry representatives, and the In2science team all gathered in the newly renovated Black Box Theatre to celebrate the achievements of In2science participants. 2022 saw the return to a more ‘normal’ form of education for all, and this was thoroughly embraced by our mentors and schools. Metropolitan-based mentors were excited to be back amongst their students in the classroom, while our eMentors enthusiastically engaged with their regional eMentees via the online mode of our program.

Awards Night began with an Acknowledgement of Country and speech from newly appointed In2science Program Director Dr Gabby Goldberg. Gabby spoke of her excitement to tackle her new role as director and her vision for In2science’s future. This was followed by a welcoming speech from In2science Chair, The Hon. Prof. John Brumby AO, and an inspiring keynote delivered by Katie Thompson, Corporate Services General Manager at Toyota – proud partners of this event and the In2science program. Katie spoke about how important it is to encourage engagement with STEM learning, a task that all our mentors aspire to achieve.

The awards presentation kicked off with joint teacher winners Carolyn Drenen from Lalor North Secondary College and Maree Timms from Galen Catholic College. Carolyn and Maree are two of In2science’s biggest supporters, and together they have hosted nearly 30 placements! Carolyn and Maree were very deserving winners of the Mentor Support Teacher Award. The School Engagement Award followed, with joint winners Galen Catholic College and South Oakleigh College recognised for their continuous support and promotion of the program. The Outstanding Mentee Award was next, with an extraordinary 10 finalists! This year the award was given to Meryem Abdulrazzak from Epping Secondary College for always interacting with mentor Harrison and her continuous efforts to improve her schoolwork. Joint winner eMentee Hamish Meddings from Maffra Secondary College was recognised for enthusiastically sharing his passion for engineering with eMentor Stella.

There were six Mentor Award categories in 2022. STEM Champion award winner Ella Burgun from RMIT University was recognised for her passion in promoting STEM career paths to young people. The Dedication Award went to veteran mentor Joseph Araniakulathil from Swinburne University of Technology for his ongoing commitment to the program mentoring at his old high school. Our Connection award winner Maria Martha Kapetanea from La Trobe University was celebrated for overcoming challenges faced during her placement and finding new ways to interact with her mentees. Ciara Murphy from The University of Melbourne won the Impact Award, which was proudly sponsored by Toyota. Ciara was incredibly kind and supportive during her time in the classroom and worked hard to engage every student in the class.

The Mentor Leaders Program, which is an extension of In2science and pairs mentors with STEM Industry Professionals, has its own award (kindly sponsored by Toyota) which recognises mentors that fully embraced the program. Jaidyn Gluskie from RMIT University won this award in 2022 for his commitment to the program and his inspirational mentoring relationship with STEM Professional Dennis. The final award for the night, the Regional Impact Award, is given to an outstanding eMentor and this year it went to Georgia Eleftheriou for her continued work with eMentee Ashlee. Georgia really goes above and beyond for her eMentee (even inviting Ashlee to undertake work experience in her lab!) making her a very worthy winner.

Guests at the event were treated to two amazing speeches during the night. The first, from previous Outstanding Mentee Award recipient Ashlee Davey of Galen Catholic College, had the audience giggling at Ashlee’s experiences in the program. Guests may have also teared up a little as Ashlee thanked all her supporters, including her exceptional mentor, award-winner Georgia. The final speech of the night was from Swinburne University of Technology mentor Ally Vimpany. Ally spoke of the many different types of kids she encountered in her placement at Narre Warren South P-12 College and how she made an effort to find different techniques to interact and engage with them all. Ally said, “I would recommend the program to everyone studying STEM as a way to give back and inspire school children to also pursue further education in STEM. It has been a highlight of my life meeting and teaching such fantastic kids, and I can’t wait for another semester next year.”

Following the awards presentation and speeches, guests enjoyed drinks and an array of delicacies from a grazing table in the Western Gallery. Award winners and finalists proudly posed in front of the university banners with In2science and university representatives. Networking between student, mentor, teacher and industry attendees continued well into the evening. Feedback from the night was overwhelmingly positive and we can’t wait to do it all again in 2023!

Click here to read more about the 2022 Awards

Click here to access the 2022 Awards Photo Gallery

 

In2science would like to thank Science Gallery Melbourne for once again hosting this fabulous event. In2science is grateful for the generous support of our Program and Awards partners: Toyota Community Trust, CSL Behring, and the Department of Education and Training Victoria.

The Mentor Leaders Program Wraps Up with an Exciting Event!

By | Events, News

By Rachel Ella

At the end of 2022 we celebrated another successful year of the Mentor Leaders Program, made possible by the Toyota Community Trust, with a wrap up event at Toyota’s Corporate Offices in Port Melbourne. This program is designed to give In2science mentors who have demonstrated exceptional leadership and mentoring skills the opportunity to be matched with STEM Professional Mentors and become In2science Leaders. The STEM Professionals provide mentorship to the In2science Leaders enabling them to gain insight into STEM career pathways and life after university. In 2022 we had 19 mentor/mentee pairs that met over a period of seven months and discussed an array of topics from how to stand out in a sea of graduates, to career planning and various pathways, to resume and interview tips and tricks, and everything in between!

Guests were welcomed and the event opened by Katarina Persic, Senior Community Foundation Coordinator at Toyota. We were treated to a fascinating presentation by Helen Tower, AS&T Senior Validation Specialist at CSL Seqirus. We learnt that, pre-COVID, the processes involved in developing and producing a vaccine were completed in a linear fashion and could take anywhere from 15-20 years due to lack of funding and scientific community focus. During COVID, the worldwide focus of scientists and increased amount government funding hastened this process, explaining why we were able to receive vaccines more quickly than was previously possible. It was a captivating presentation that answered many questions around the production of the COVID vaccines.

We then heard from one of our In2science Leaders, Jaidyn Gluskie, and his STEM Professional Mentor, Dennis Damsma, Studio Engineer & Milling Manager, Product Design and Product Planning & Development at Toyota Australia. Jaidyn and Dennis were one of our most successful pairings. Together they helped Jaidyn identify a true calling for the automotive engineering industry, born from an interest in motor racing, a passion they both share. Dennis’ mentoring helped Jaidyn build confidence in himself as a person and as a budding engineer which led to a six week internship in Dennis’ team at Toyota. They were both grateful for the opportunity provided by the MLP to work together, learn from each other, and build a successful mentoring relationship that will continue into the future.

Thank you to all our STEM Professional Mentors for volunteering your time to be part of the MLP and providing essential guidance to our In2science Leaders. Planning for the 2023 program is underway and more information will be released shortly. If you are keen to be involved, please reach out to Mentor Leaders Program Coordinator Rachel Ella.

Tomorrow’s STEM industry in today’s classroom with Dr Cathy Foley

By | Events, News

By Jarrod McKenna

In October 2022 In2science delivered an engaging forum for STEM teachers, industry professionals, and In2science mentors. In partnership with Engineers Australia (EA) and hosted by In2science Chair The Honourable Prof John Brumby AO, the forum highlighted the current challenges of teaching translatable and useful STEM skills and knowledge to Australia’s high school students. We were honoured to have Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Cathy Foley AO deliver an inspiring keynote speech. Dr Foley then joined fellow STEM professionals EA General Manager Alesha Printz, CEO and Founder of Indigital Mikaela Jade, Education Program Manager at Rail Projects Victoria (RPV) Cherida Longley, and Head of Programs at Bendigo Tech School Ember Chittenden for an engaging and enlightening panel discussion.

The panel noted how desperately short Australia is of engineers, and workshopped ways in which we can engage more people (women and girls, in particular) with engineering careers and study options. Alesha echoed Dr Foley’s call for greater investment in and support of women and girls in STEM, and shared EA’s TV advert emphasising the enormous variety of engineering jobs and their impact across several different industries. Cherida also highlighted the incredible success that RPV have had using Minecraft to reach the younger generations and show them in an engaging, exciting way how the Metro Tunnel projects are designed, managed, and operated – it’s about finding what grabs the attention and interest of the younger generations and using that to connect them with real-world engineering.

The discussion ended by calling for greater support of engineering and to change the perception of ‘what an engineer does or looks like’ (not all of them wear hi-vis and a hard hat!). Finding new ways to approach STEM education like designing programs to look through an Indigenous lens, engaging with local tech schools and industry professionals, or even incorporating software like Minecraft into your outreach programs are all ways we are working to fill the hundreds of thousands of engineering jobs required by 2025 and to close the digital divide between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.

In2science would like to thank EA for hosting the event, and all the speakers and panellists for sharing their thoughts, expertise, and words of advice for teachers and industry professionals to help better connect classrooms with real-world STEM.

 

Inaugural Science Expo with CSL Behring

By | News


By Jarrod McKenna

In June 2022, Hume Central Secondary College hosted their inaugural Science Expo partnering with In2science and CSL Behring. Year 7-9 students worked individually or in small groups to create an engaging, informative science activity, poster, or experiment to be judged by a panel of expert scientists from CSL Behring.

Over two days and on both the Blair Street and Dimboola Road Campuses, students presented on fascinating topics covering all corners of science – from elephant trunks to bacterial growth to chemical reactions! Students were joined by campus principals Mr Nick Bakatsoulas and Ms Vivienne Caravas, and Councillors Sam Misho and Karen Sherry of Hume City Council, who took part in the judging. Presentations were also judged by fellow Hume Central students with top teams being awarded the People’s Choice Award. Additionally, expert scientists from CSL Behring picked their top presentations – and it was a tight race! After much deliberation, the expert judges picked their winners, who were awarded with $50 gift vouchers!

Congratulations to all participating teams! In2science would like to thank CSL Behring for sponsoring the expo and judging the incredible presentations, and acknowledge Hume City Council’s support and commitment to science education in the region.