Swinburne University of Technology engineering student Tiran Fernando has been awarded an Engagement Australia scholarship for his work with community outreach program Spokes in the Wheel.
Spokes in the Wheel recycles old bikes and donates them to the Sudanese community in Melbourne. Volunteers fix the bikes and then over four weeks teach the Sudanese children enrolled in the program basic skills of how to ride and maintain a bike.
For Tiran the motivation for being involved in Spokes in the Wheel has always been fun, friendship and community.
“Volunteering at Spokes in the Wheel is one of the most fun and rewarding experiences I have ever had,” he said.
“We’re a bunch of mates getting together and fixing bikes, but the best part is that we all know that these bikes that we’re working on are going to make a positive impact on the community.
“For most of the kids it’s their first bike. I don’t know if you remember your first bike, but it’s liberating! And in this case it goes such a long way towards making them feel at home here.”
As a Swinburne student Tiran has always been an engaged member of the community. He regularly volunteers his time for Swinburne Student Amenities Association events and is the President of the Swinburne chapter of Engineers without Borders.
Swinburne’s Executive Dean of Engineering Professor John Wilson said: “Swinburne is very proud of Tiran and the work that he does for the Spokes in the Wheel initiative.
“Swinburne is a great supporter of Engineers without Borders, a terrific organisation that authentically helps in developing leadership skills for our students, particularly around humanitarian engineering initiatives that help to shape a better world.”
The Spokes in the Wheel program is a collaborative effort between Sudanese Australian Integrated Learning (SAIL) and Engineers without Borders.
The aim of the program is to provide the Sudanese community with a low cost sustainable means of transport and help make community members feel more at home.
The scholarship gave Tiran the opportunity to attend the Engagement Australia 2014 Conference held at Charles Sturt University in July.
Engagement Australia is a not-for-profit organisation that is committed to developing and promoting community engagement within the higher education sector.
Tiran hopes to use this opportunity to raise awareness for Spokes in the wheel and promote SAIL and Engineers without Borders.
Tiran is in his final year at Swinburne studying robotics and mechatronics engineering.
For more information on ‘Spokes in the wheel’ and to find out how you can help click here