Students engage with cutting-edge tech at Manufacturing Innovation Showcase

Brendan Rees

From robotics to virtual reality and 3D printing, Port Melbourne Secondary College students have received the ultimate hands-on lesson when it comes to cutting-edge technology.

Year 7 students were inspired after taking part in the Australian Manufacturing Innovation Showcase at The Timber Yard in Port Melbourne – situated in the heart of the Fishermans Bend precinct – which brought together 41 manufacturers from across Australia to demonstrate how new technology can help to solve complex problems and to offer opportunities for growth. 

Students were also able to connect with experts from universities and industry to grow their passion for and understanding of the breadth of STEM-focused careers.

The two-day event was a celebration of the work of the Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (IMCRC) based at RMIT University’s city campus, which is helping transform Australia’s manufacturing industry through collaborative investment, research impact and innovation. 

Port Melbourne Secondary College principal Anne Stout said the visit to the showcase on November 3 was a “fantastic day” to provide students with “a real sense of how their learning in school connects meaningfully to their potential future worlds of study and work”. 

“Our students found it fascinating to consider some of the problems that the different groups were working on, many of which we simply wouldn’t have realised were industry problems, such as maintaining the health of electricity poles, or helping engineers on defence ships manage mechanical issues in real time,” she said.

“Seeing the world through the eyes of those working across a range of different industries and organisations was really interesting ... we’ll be looking at the world around us in a completely new way from now on.”

The MCRC’s director of industrial transformation Simon Dawson said the event was a success as it showed the “breadth and depth” of collaborative research and development in Australia. 

“The event was a celebration of the work of the Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre and their partners who have successfully delivered 71 innovative manufacturing projects generating more than $230 million in research and development investment,” he said. •

Mr Dawson said he was thrilled to see the range of work on show, including HYDAC Australia as Victorian manufacturer demonstrating their use of virtual reality to deliver their maintenance training or Melbourne Water applying the technology to train their workforce.

“Also on display were projects involving 3D printing for medical implants, advanced materials for outdoor wear and rock scaling robots able to reduce risks in difficult working environments to name but a few.”

Mr Dawson said the showcase was an opportunity to bring the many parties together who, through a combination of COVID and working from across differing states, had a chance to network and celebrate new projects. He said it also ensure the good work could continue beyond the life of the IMCRC, which was due to close its doors at the end of 2022 after being set up as a one-term, high-impact cooperative research centre in 2016.

The Fisherman’s Bend innovation precinct in Port Melbourne (located across the City of Melbourne and City of Port Phillip municipalities) is set to undergo a major transformation to put Victoria at the forefront of global innovation in advanced manufacturing, engineering, and design.


Caption: Year 7 students at Port Melbourne Secondary College take part in the Australian Manufacturing Innovation Showcase.

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