Year 11 student, Liam Price, believes coming to BSSC has significantly changed his attitude to education.
“I really didn’t view my education as that important through Years 7 to 10,” he says. “When I came to BSSC I soon realised I hadn’t made as much of an effort as I should have and that my future—to some extent—depended on the next two years.”
However, his time at Crusoe College wasn’t without some valuable building blocks for the future. In Year 10, Liam gained a raft of skills and experience during a work placement with electrician Thomas Benson Electrical.
“Tom looked after me so well and introduced me to advanced electrical work,” Liam explains. “He was also a positive role model—the way he balanced his work with his family life. It was very inspiring.
“In hindsight, I wish I’d made the most of the technology opportunities at Crusoe College—not just the work experience.”
When Liam arrived at BSSC he was ready to grab every opportunity.
Although most students are nervous about starting at a new and larger campus with unfamiliar teachers, Liam had already heard about the CISCO and electronics classes and was really looking forward to being with other students who shared his fascination with technology.
Liam has elected to study Physics, General Maths, Systems Engineering, Integrative Technologies and English—not his favourite subject.
“English asks for such a different way of thinking compared to my other subjects,” he says.
He is also happy with all his teachers but names Warren Sutton and Roy Preece as particularly inspiring.
Overall Liam has found Physics to be his most challenging subject, but appreciates that Physics goes hand in hand with his other STEM (Science/Technology/Engineering/Mathematics) subjects and recommends all tech students think seriously about selecting it.
So what do students studying subjects such a Systems Engineering (SE), Integrative Technologies (IT) and CISCO actually do?
“Integrated Technologies is a VET subject that teaches the basics of electronics,” Liam explains. “It’s about coding, learning to program, understanding how to get things working and the theory behind it all.
“Systems Engineering is a VCE subject focused on mechanics and electronics. It’s much more dedicated to theory,” he says. “For example I have learnt the mathematical equations for making a crane that will not topple over and I used this formula to work out the positioning of a phone that sits on a crane that is part of the robot I built.
“CISCO is all about networking devices together so my phone can talk to my computer which is talking to the robot.”
This combination of subjects allows Liam to work on different aspects of the same project—in this case, a robot—across a variety of subjects.
Despite appreciating the tech set-up at BSSC, Liam does have a wish list.
“I would love to see upgrades to support more advanced electronic technology opportunities and a wider availability of parts such as plastics,” he says. “And it would be great to upgrade the 3-D printer.”
Next year Liam plans to continue these subjects and hopes to attend the CISCO summit where he will hear from business people who are funding projects such as a robot that looks, sounds and talks just like a human being.
By the time he completes Year 12 he will also have completed a Certificate II in Integrated Technologies which he hopes will contribute towards an apprenticeship with a domestic electrician or one of commercial electrical engineering companies in Bendigo.
In the meantime, Liam’s focus is on his studies and the next major challenge he has set himself; to develop a drawing robot, about the size of a human hand—a step-up in complexity compared to projects completed so far.
To date, the project Liam is rightfully most proud of is the robot tank (shown in the image above).
The idea for this robot was born in a Year 10 Engineering class at Crusoe College where Liam decided he wanted to construct something quite large and complex.
“It took me ages,” he says. “It was controlled through a phone or computer but was limited to short-range manoeuvres because it depended on WiFi and therefore couldn’t move too far from a WiFi source.
“Then I thought, wouldn’t it be cool to have unlimited range.”
When Liam came to BSSC he had his chance. The initial robot was deconstructed and rebuilt in his Systems Engineering class—with the addition of new materials such as plastic components used in the crane.
It can now carry two phones, can be voice controlled, and can directly stream footage via the camera lens (mounted on the front) back to a computer.
“And because the phone uses 4G, it can be operated anywhere in the world,” Liam explains. “The technology in the robot could easily be upgraded to a more efficient one that could even be used as a mobile security surveillance device around a home or outdoor area.”
Reflecting on the impact of technology on our society, Liam is conscious of many ways it has improved and changed our lives.
“There are a lot of things being automated,” he says, “For example, Bendigo Health now has robots delivering meals to wards.”
But Liam concedes that humans need to move to keep fit and healthy, and technology such as this should not be seen as an excuse to sit for longer.
“I’m also aware there are threats, such as drones that are being used in warfare and terrorism,” he says. “I think terrorism is a major global problem and technology will not be able to fix every problem we create.”
The fascination with all things tech takes up quite a bit of Liam’s time at home as well. He admits that sport is mostly a bit of footy with his mates, but he keeps as active as possible. He also takes his religious beliefs very seriously.
Added into the mix, Liam has an incredible passion for the guitar that was kindled by the Pink Floyd song Wish You Were Here. He’s still a big fan. And their song, Us and Them, remains an all-time favourite.
“I actually love guitar as much as I love tech, and although I am presently working on some Rolling Stones songs, I also love the Eagles and the Beatles.”
Liam has successfully balanced his interest in music and alternative technology projects with other college requirements. So, what is his advice to other students?
“Choose your subjects carefully and take subjects where you can learn about what you are already passionate about,” Liam recommends. “And use the notebook function on your computer to keep your study notes so you can access them anytime, anywhere.”