In response to the perception that too few young Australians viewed engineering and related technical fields as a career path of choice a passionate Australian decided to take action. Dr Michael Myers OAM, a highly awarded engineer and businessman, created a social enterprise and called it the Re-Engineering Australia Foundation (REA). It was time to re-engineer our nation. And to re-engineer the way in which we inspire and teach our young people.
The not-for-profit organisation began 1998 with the objective to establish a series of stepping stone activities which would form a pathway of encouragement along which students could progress – with each step adding to the their interest and understanding of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) activities, trades and professions. Michael was joined by a group of like-minded people from Australia’s and the world’s leading companies – they too believed in the need for change and saw that this social enterprise with its revolutionary ideas was the best means of achieving it. Government departments also joined the group. The founding patron was the Honourable John Button.
REA’s revolutionary programs have linked schools, industry, TAFE, universities and parents in a collaborative environment focused on changing the metaphor of the education process. More than 35,000 students are mentored each year with another 100,000 benefiting from these outcomes. Over the past decade and a half approximately half a million students have been impacted by REA.
REA’s goal is to equip children with the skills and knowledge to allow them to take on the world. The Foundation has received a lot of recognition for its success including the Prime Minister’s Award for Skills Excellence, Engineers Australia Engineering Excellence Award, Engineers Australia National Presidents Award, Warren Centre Medal for Outstanding Contribution to Engineering, Association of Consulting Engineers Presidents Award for Outstanding Contribution to Consulting Engineering, Smart State Science Award, Peter Doherty Science Award and Dassault Systemes Global Education Award.
The Department of Defence (DOD), responsible for billions of dollars of hi-tech’ engineering projects across our nation, came onboard as a National Sponsor of REA and has announced continued support into the future. With more than 100 technical career paths on offer, the DOD is keen to see our smart young minds look to ship building, aerospace and land vehicles projects for fulfilling futures.
The current patron, Dr Peter Farrell, the Founder and Executive Chairman of the Board of ResMed, says “Australia needs more highly skilled technical people who are willing to think and be creative. Consider any innovation and no doubt it has been developed by people who have a firm grasp of the STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and mathematics. But how do you make these subjects challenging and desirable to our young people? You have to make them relevant and exciting…and that is exactly what the Re-Engineering Australia Foundation is doing. Their programs combine world-best technology with applied learning and collaboration with industry. They are causing maths and science classes to fill up, and students are asking for after school classes and being able to go to school during their holidays.”
As REA ventures forth on its next chapter of development, looking to impact one million students, Dr Farrell has been joined by two other outstanding Australians: Motor Sport Patron Alan Jones OBE, the 1980 Formula1 World Champion, and Technology Patron Sam Michael from the Vodafone Mercedes McLaren F1 race team.