In summary

  • Swinburne’s Knox Innovation Opportunity and Sustainability Centre (KIOSC) turns 10  
  • To celebrate, Director Dr Kulari Lokuge shares her top 10 moments from KIOSC 
  • Her highlights include launching First Lego League comps, quickly pivoting in lockdowns to bring STEM to the students’ sofas, giving students hands-on access to the latest tech, and more. 

Dr Kulari Lokuge is a champion of innovative education and a lover of science and technology (for context, she programs robots on the weekend for fun!). 

She has a wealth of knowledge in eLearning and is committed to delivering better learning experiences to students. And while she used to teach as a senior lecturer in Sri Lanka, guiding bachelor and master degree software engineering students, over the past few years she’s turned her attention to much younger students. 

To celebrate KIOSC’s 10th Birthday, Kulari shares her top 10 moments from KIOSC over the past decade.  

Your all-time, top 10 favourite moments from KIOSC over the past decade?

There are so many, it’s hard to choose only ten! And while I haven’t been at KIOSC for a decade, I certainly have my highlight moments. Here they are: 

10. Collaborating with Swinburne, our partner schools, and the local community to set up KIOSC in 2012

Establishing KIOSC was a great moment for our partner school students, who were the first in Victoria to benefit from such an opportunity.

9. Developing co-created programs with our partner schools 

Our strong working relationships with our partner schools have allowed us to co-create a suite of programs together. Delivering programs that are so closely aligned to the teachers’ and students’ needs is incredibly rewarding for all involved. 

8. Inspiring countless students to pursue careers in STEM

Enabling students to choose a rewarding career in STEM is not just satisfying, it’s needed. All future careers need STEM skills, whether that be as an engineer, a lawyer or a builder. KIOSC is playing a vital role in shaping our future.  

Empowering students with immersive and interactive learning experiences is one of many perks of the job for Kulari.  

7. Collaborating with other TechSchools  

Sharing ideas, lessons and key resources with other TechSchools (ten other schools in Victoria modelled off the success of KIOSC) and helping them establish their programs and buildings is a real highlight.  

6. Upgrading our equipment (and bolstering our students’ learning opportunities) 

In 2019, KIOSC secured funding to refurbish some systems that were due for an upgrade. The Department of Education and Training (DET) also provided funds for equipment – the overall result was better learning experiences for our students.  

5. Launching our FIRST LEGO League competitions 

The KIOSC team love Lego! We enjoy and appreciate what Lego can do to inspire creativity and collaboration. Over the years, KIOSC has conducted FIRST LEGO Leauge regional competitions. This will be our eighth year. In 2019, we had over 500 guests compete and share ideas. I’m hoping we can get back to those numbers again in the near future.  

Eager students set to work on a FIRST LEGO League challenge. 

4. Providing STEM education opportunities to rural and regional students  

Several rural and regional schools have taken part in our programs. In 2021 during non-lockdown times, KIOSC staff were able to visit these schools and deliver our programs. During 2022, a couple of schools have visited KIOSC to take part in the programs. One of the school teachers said that the best thing was “exploring these innovative technologies and the ability to use them in an educational setting.” Knowing and seeing the impact these opportunities have on students is a very rewarding part of my job.

3. Winning the Vice-Chancellor’s award for our TrashBot program

The KIOSC team designed the TrashBot project to help students find solutions for more sustainable living. We gave our Year 9 and 10 students a challenge: to improve waste management practices in schools with innovative smart bins. 

In the midst of the pandemic and associated lockdowns, this project was one of our biggest achievements – and I know it gave the students focus and hope, too. Winning the Vice-Chancellor’s Teaching Excellence Award for Vocational Education was the icing on the cake. It provided well-deserved recognition for the team’s efforts.

Students used artificial intelligence and machine learning to create a prototype for a smart bin.

2. Pivoting to provide hands-on learning experiences during prolonged periods of lockdown  

The KIOSC team was able to design and deliver engaging hands-on programs using online environments in a short period of time. Like with our TrashBot project. We had a production line of sorts here where we assembled packages of circuits and bins, ready for mailing to the schools. This was very much appreciated by the schools – and the students too, of course! 

KIOSC’s commitment to keeping students engaged with STEM projects never wavered. Even in the midst of lockdowns, their innovative and curious spirit prevailed. If the students couldn’t come to KIOSC, KIOSC would come to them.  

1. Building our team 

There are many people who have contributed to KIOSC’s success: the school communities, Swinburne, the Department of Education and Training and our industry partners. 

Rounding out no.1 in Kulari’s list is her team. She’s incredibly proud of them and everything they achieve. 

The biggest thank you goes to our KIOSC staff who tirelessly work to inspire the next generation of STEM professionals on a daily basis. 

Discover more about KIOSC and how to get involved. 

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