A recent visit to Victoria’s Suburban Rail Loop (SRL) site in Burwood is sparking a love of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) in female high school students.
The Inspiring STEM+ program, led by Initial and Early Works Managing Contractor Laing O’Rourke, is introducing young women to diverse career pathways including engineering, commercial management and law.
About 45 Kilbreda College STEM students received a tour of the SRL construction site in Burwood and heard from the construction crew about what it’s like to work on Victoria’s biggest infrastructure project.
Rhiannán, 14, said the visit to the Burwood site was a rare opportunity to see what goes on behind the scenes.
“I’d never been on a construction site before and I thought it was interesting to see how everything works,” she said.
The Year 9 students learned about the history of the Burwood site as well as works taking place, including preparing to launch a tunnel boring machine.
Throughout the two-year program, students are introduced to the construction industry and learn about project development and sustainability.
“What I’m enjoying the most about the program is the environmental aspect; I really liked learning how vegetation will be renewed in the Burwood area,” Rhiannán said.
Charlotte, 15, said the Inspiring STEM+ program had made her interested in digital engineering.
“You can see the way technology is being used for the development of the sites before construction even starts,” she said.
“The program explains all different aspects of working on a project, not just construction or engineering, but the entire process.”
Inspiring STEM+ aims to increase female participation in STEM with ongoing opportunities for work experience and support through university for these students.
Construction of SRL East from Cheltenham to Box Hill is underway, creating up to 8000 direct local jobs. At least 14 per cent of total hours worked during this first phase of construction will be completed by Victorian apprentices, trainees or cadets.
Trains will be running by 2035, making it easier to get to universities, TAFE, jobs and services.