The Cessnock Academy of STEM Excellence (CASE) have entered the first all-girl, Indigenous team in the world’s largest STEM competition, F1 in Schools – a contest that challenges 20 million students from 17,000 schools in 44 countries to mimic Formula One Racing teams and design, construct and race F1 racing car prototypes.
Representing CASE and its member school, Cessnock High, Alexandra Kipp, Jordarna Barber, Jyordi McGaw and Jayde Dunn comprise the team ‘MKBD Racing’.
They joined 26 teams from across the Hunter to compete in the regional stage of the global competition in Maitland.
Teams vied for the coveted Regional Champion title that will elevate them to the state then national competition and, from there, to ‘worlds’.
Forming the team
The girls were encouraged to form a team and enter the F1 in Schools competition as part of new CASE initiatives to upskill Cessnock primary and high school students in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).
Alexandra Kipp, MKBD Racing’s Manager/Engineer, said of the team’s participation in F1, “This project has given us new opportunities. We are the first all-girl Aboriginal team in this competition so people will look out for us when we leave school, we’ll have more opportunities, especially at Boeing.”
Team MKBD Racing testing their cars
A helping hand from Boeing
Boeing Defence Australia partnered with CASE to provide the MKBD team with technical advice and mentoring during the design and construction of their F1 prototype.
Students visited Boeing’s RAAF Base Williamtown facility and studied Hornet and Wedgetail aircraft to better understand aerodynamics, systems engineering and project management.
They also engaged with engineers and specialist staff who provided technical advice and mentoring.
Jeff Darby, GSS Capability Leader at Boeing Defence Australia, said that the company was very pleased to partner with the CASE team and impressed with the students’ attitude to the project,
“The girls visited Boeing’s hangar at the Base to study the aircraft up-close. We helped them relate what they were seeing directly back to the cars they were designing.
“Students made technical improvements to their final designs after seeing wing and aircraft shapes and engaging with our engineers – which we commend them for.
“Our aim in partnering on programs such as this, is to help girls better understand and be inspired to pursue technical career paths.” continued Mr Darby. Boeing followed the progress of MKBD Racing.
Support from CASE
Dr Scott Sleap, Manager of CASE said, “We’re extremely proud of Alexandra, Jordarna, Jyordi and Jayde.
“They’ve embraced the opportunity to work on the F1 project and with Boeing – and they’re excelling. The technology this project has introduced them to is almost university level – they’re working on finite element analysis, wind tunnels, developing CAD/CAM programs and using 3D printers.
“Without Boeing’s support, they simply wouldn’t have had the opportunity to compete at this level.
“Programs like F1 in Schools teach skills in an integrated way and makes those skills ‘real’ by applying them in practical, problem-based situations. It also opens their eyes to the career paths that studying STEM presents.”
Author: Kate O’Mara
Based in the Hunter region of NSW, I’m a freelance project director and communications specialist with a background in regional development.