In Summary

  • Year 12 students show flair for problem solving
  • Industry partners support real learning


Working with an industry partner in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, a team of Year 12 students has designed a unique fruit-processing machine that is on its way to overseas markets.

The Certificate II in Engineering Studies students undertook a 40-hour design project as part of the Industry Pathways program delivered at the Knox Innovation, Opportunity and Sustainability Centre (KIOSC) at Swinburne’s Wantirna campus.

Their assignment was to automate a manual cherry-processing task capable of handling 6000 kilograms of fruit per hour. 

The students worked with Mount Waverley based GP Graders, a leading supplier of produce grading, sorting and packing machinery.

Combining their skills in mathematics, computer design and problem solving, they built a prototype of the mechanism integral to their design to test its operation.

“We had to meet the existing 80 per cent efficiency of the work that had previously been done by hand,” student Matt Voogd says.

“The design process took two days. It was pretty complex and gave us plenty of hands-on experience,” teammate Ben Lohning says.

Industry partners key to program’s success

Swinburne team leader Shanti Krishnan says the Industry Pathways program provides students with critical practical experience during their Vocational Education in Training (VET) studies as part of their VCE.

“The design project is intended to enhance the students’ overall understanding of the engineering industry and introduce them to the diversity of technical and employability skills required to succeed in the industry,” Ms Krishnan says.

She says the university’s industry partners were critical to the success of the program. Host employers undertake that all work will comply with industry health and safety requirements. They offer students the opportunity to work with engineering drawings and apply basic calculation, fabrication and machining techniques, under instruction.

Other student projects

  • A team designed fixtures accurate to one micrometre for Kilsyth-based JBO Engineering. They solved a complex design problem that created efficiency for machinery parts being used in casings for computers and dashboards for racing cars.
  • Fellow students spent their 40-hour placement at Draffin Street Furniture in Bayswater, building a ground-breaking prototype of a device used to transport panels for street furniture.

Swinburne engineering teacher for VET in schools Ken Barnett says several students in the program have been offered future employment by the companies.

“The program has taught many of them a strong work ethic and an understanding of what the industry requires of them.  They have shown promise and contributed to their own success.”