Brighton Secondary School in Adelaide adopted F1 in Schools STEM Challenge back in 2005. In 2007 Finn Galindo was one of those students who put his hand up to become part of F1 in Schools.

“It appealed to me because I liked the idea of being able to design my own vehicles, of using computers in a sophisticated way, having a team and going into a competition. I felt that it was relevant to me.”

Finn joined a team called XLR8 and they made it all the way to the National Finals in Canberra. For Mr Read this was the beginning of an incredible sequence of victories that would see his school being represented at every National Final from then through to now. Along with four appearances at the F1 in Schools World Finals – one of which they won.

Finn was hooked and decided to compete a second time,

“I moved up into the senior team and as Cold Fusion we worked hard to get to the national finals in Melbourne. We had the reverse whale tail on the nose which was all about directing the pressure waves. We finished in the top ten. It was a good experience.”

“There were so many students who wanted to be involved in Cold Fusion, because we were really building up F1 in Schools at the school, so we split the team in two. I moved into the Azoto team. We competed against Cold Fusion at the nationals at Eastern Creek Raceway in Sydney. The competition was fierce.”

The following year Finn decided not to compete for a fourth time because he was in Year 11,

“I was nervous about whether I would have time for it because to be competitive you have to commit a lot of time and energy to it, so I turned to mentoring instead. That was when the likes of Spencer Olds, Michelle Lennon and Thomas Agars were coming through. They took Cold Fusion on and won the nationals and then the world finals.”

The ‘changing of the guard’ occurred at the end of 2016 with Mr Read retiring and Finn taking on the lead role in continuing to spearhead F1 in Schools and STEM teaching at Brighton. Stephen’s swan song was going with a team called Infinitude to the World Finals in Texas and seeing them set a new world speed record and finish second overall.

He has been recognised for his incredible achievements by the not for profit organisation which operates F1 in Schools in Australia, the Re-Engineering Australia Foundation. He received the coveted Founders Award and was made the first Fellow of REA in Australia.

The spotlight is now on the new Master…once the pupil,

“I do feel a little bit of pressure. Mr Read has been an amazing inspiration on me and others. The impact he has had on me has been huge. If I am able to do anything like he was able to do I’ll be very pleased and feel like I’ve been successful.”

It was around this time that Finn gave serious thought to his future,

“When you are in the competition you’ve got industry people coming to meet you and being interested in what you are doing. It does make you think about what comes next. I originally wanted to be an engineer but there was a point where I realised I probably wouldn’t enjoy that so much from the human perspective. I enjoyed talking to people, working with people and helping them so I went a bit more into the humanities and thought if I can help people to become engineers I will fill that gap anyway.”

Finn went to the University of South Australia to complete his degree and after graduating he sought to return to his school,

‘With a program like F1 in Schools one of the things you understand is the world of business and industry and how it works. Everything is based on supply and demand. You want to be the person who has got something to supply that people want. I recognised that within teaching.”

As someone who had an intimate knowledgeable of how STEM was being taught at Brighton Secondary School, Finn was accepted onto the teaching staff.

“It has been an interesting experience coming back as a teacher, having competed in F1. Being able to bring your experience which the kids find really useful. It definitely helps in terms of understanding what the whole premise of STEM is.”

“We are helping students to understand how to confront big problems and how to break them down. In any situation whether you are in business or industry you need to have an ability to perceive the problem, break the problem down into parts and then solve those constituent parts. Most problems are too difficult to solve with a single answer. And that’s fundamentally what you do in F1 in Schools. You have this complex but very interesting problem that you break down. It has all of those elements in it, and some. Then you have to build your solution, think critically, collaborate and analyse where you need to spend your time. You build up abilities that are incredibly valuable in the real world.”

Finn said the fact that his students know that he competed in F1 in Schools at the highest level has created a special classroom dynamic,

“It has been quoted to me by my students that I get very passionate and a little bit vocal. I get carried away they would say. I asked them is it a good or a bad thing and they said it makes you seem like you care about it, and if you care about then we might care about it.”

“I fully believe in the relevance of the F1 program and the other program we’re involved in now, Subs in Schools. They do have a real impact on the students. You’re not quoting from a text book… you are tackling complex challenges in a real-world sense.”