NYSF (session B) Report: By Declan Wain.


I would like to thank the people who helped make Session B great.

Thank you; to Rotary for sponsoring me, my Rotary host family for saving me from dying of exhaustion and to all the rotary mums, dads, uncles and aunts for helping with all the injuries, lost keys and  being friendly.  To the Staffies for giving up their time to organise us, hang out with us, making sure we got to our labs visits and for their enthusiasm. To all the scientists and engineers who took the time to give fantastic experiences. Finally, to all the other NYSFers especially to my group members from Maxwell. 


Travel: When arriving at Melbourne airport we had a minor inconvenience with a mix up about group travel arrangements but upon arrival in Perth airport the Staffies met us and directed us around. Travelling back to Melbourne from Perth was simple and easy.


Lab Visits (for Maxwell group): The shipwreck gallery was an interesting place to visit because there was a lot of mechanical engineering to observe, for example reconstructed steam engines, the design of boats and of course cannons. This visit was further strengthened by meeting the curator, an eccentric chemist who explained the chemical engineering behind restoring shipwrecks that are up to 500 years old from the ocean floor.    


The next lab visit was ICRAR, the radio astronomy centre of the University of Western Australia. We took part in activities such as observing sun spots through a telescopes and using computers to interpret data gathered by radio telescopes. This was a great lab visit that highlighted the importance of information technology in science to me.


Our lab visit to Bankwest was very interesting as it showed us how a real work place operated, a rare experience for people of my age. We got a tour of the building seeing different aspects of this organisation such as the technology section and how meeting spaces worked. We got split into two groups and had a competition to design an application for Bankwest this gave us an insight into the process which software engineers go through whilst staying away from the in-depth technical side of the process.


We went to the engineering department of the UWA. Here we met engineers from an organisation called Engineers Without Borders. They explained that in their line of work, they had to use their engineering skills to create systems in third world countries that provide clean water, housing and many more basic human needs. They set us the challenge of using common building materials of Cambodia (scaled down) and a budget to create platoons, they were then tested by seeing how many marbles could be placed on them before they sunk. On the same visit we went to UWA’s environmental engineering department where we looked at scale models of beaches and the Swan River.  This lab visit gave us a great insight into how engineers model, test and develop their ideas.


The software engineering department of Curtin University was a very interesting visit.  It included learning how to hack into other computers, an explanation how computers use cameras to see and exploring virtual worlds.


Our visit to DSTO in the Stirling Base was definitely from an engineering point of view a highlight of the NYSF. We saw how different experimental techniques were used to test aspects of submarine designs and then an insight into the engineering which would be employed to improve on these experimental results. Also we learned about the Navy’s “lie detector” which was good fun.


Alcoa was an interesting lab visit. The best parts of it were definitely when we walked around the refinery and saw how their technology worked. This included seeing their electron microscope and laser stylus scanner.  However the speakers at Alcoa were not very interesting and did not interact with us much.


Lectures/presentations;  I found every lecture and presentation at the NYSF intriguing.  In particular my favourites were; Lyn Beazley who is the ex-chief scientist of Western Australia. She spoke of the excellent science and engineering that is being conducted across Western Australia.  The SKA presentation that explained how the universe was expanding and for once the complicated physics, behind it all. The whole hour and half my attention did not wander.   


On Partner’s day I enjoyed the science and information of the different presentations from supporting universities. However, it felt like they were only advertising to us it took away from their speeches and it seemed like a waste especially because directly after there was an expo where they could advertise to us.


At both of the formal dinners the speeches were brilliant. I only wish that the Hamish Jolly gave deeper explanations of the science behind his Shark Mitigation Systems.


Social occasions: The science relay quiz gave floors a chance to get to know each other better through team work and collaboration. The first night we arrived in Perth, we played games for hours whilst waiting for the other states to arrive gave people a chance to meet each other too. The bush dance was good fun and once again we made lots of new friendships through it. Finally the science disco was fantastic and had great atmosphere due to the costumes.


Accommodation: Staying in University Hall was perfect for everything from hanging out in the shade to playing Ultimate Frisbee on the lawn. The rooms were small but it didn’t matter because they had fans and windows that could be opened and I only used my room for sleeping. Finally the food in the University Hall always had a good range of options.


Overall, NYSF was a very positive experience and I would recommend it to any science student considering applying for this opportunity. Like to learn more about NYSF?