Whittlesea Tech School is now open, giving students in Melbourne's north a head start on thinking and creating for the future.
About 10,500 students from 14 partner secondary schools in the City of Whittlesea will access the new Tech School, which is based at Melbourne Polytechnic's Epping campus.
Whittlesea Tech School provides a highly flexible learning environment that includes spaces for design, collaboration and problem solving. These spaces provide students with hands-on experience using specialised high-tech STEM equipment.
Whittlesea Secondary College student Corbin Jenkins is participating in an electronic music composition workshop with Tech School partner Melbourne Electronic Sound Studio. He is exploring music composition using equipment at Whittlesea Tech School.
'I've enjoyed working with my friends to use synthesizers,' Corbin says. 'Usually you don't get to do this kind of thing (at school). So it's very interesting and fun.'
The music project introduces students to electronics through using synthesisers, sequencers and amplification equipment. By making music together, the students also develop teamwork, collaboration and coordination skills.
Each Tech School around Victoria focuses on industries relevant to their particular area. Whittlesea Tech School's industry focuses are:
- advanced manufacturing
- scientific and technical services
- healthcare and social assistance
- entrepreneurial skills
- food and fibre
Biotechnology comes to Whittlesea
Whittlesea Tech School Co-Director Dr Sandra McKechnie is leading the biotechnology program at the Whittlesea Tech School. Dr McKechnie has a PhD in biotechnology and has been a science educator for over 20 years.
'The biotechnology program is one example of how the Whittlesea Tech School will connect the classroom with industry,' Dr McKechnie says
'Biotechnology is a leading future industry critical to growing challenges of livability and population .'
Whittlesea Tech School has partnered with global biotechnology company CSL Behring on a pilot program for Year 7-9 students. The program was also co-designed by the Committee for Melbourne, partner schools and the community.
The 10-week biotechnology pilot program supports students learn the skillsets and mindsets they need for a career in science, while also developing an understanding of the range of career options in one of the fastest growing industries.
The program includes a tour of CSL Behring - where students can see how the facility receives blood plasma and extracts the protein - laboratory-based scientific investigation, and a biotechnology design challenge where students engineer new solutions to a range of challenges, such as growing crops on Mars.
CSL Behring's Biotherapies for Life Talent Management Director Kathy Sacca says the partnership shows students the broad range of careers in STEM.
'We have various options for careers, from robotics and automation through to research and development staff - who research potential new products and new therapies,' Kathy says.
'We also need electricians and plumbers who work with our engineering department – there's so many career options.'
Other programs on offer at Whittlesea Tech School include Koorie Voices: an Interactive Installation, inquiry programs, a Student Start-Up and Accelerator program and a Lamp Design Challenge.
Tech Schools are centres of STEM excellence that engage students from neighbouring schools in a high-tech learning environment.
They work as a link between schools and industry and challenge students to solve real-world problems.
Tech School programs connect students with their future — matching their skills with future jobs.