As part of the Graduate program at TasNetworks, and our professional development, we are sometimes selected to attend events on behalf of the business across a range of different events. This time I was lucky enough to be selected to help judge at a State Finals competition for the F1 in Schools STEM professionals challenge.
The night before:
I and a colleague began our trip up to Launceston in preparation for judging at the competition the following day – while the trip is only a little over two hours, we made use of the time discussing our development and what we enjoyed most about the graduate program.
Evidently, we both discussed how much we appreciate the development opportunities given to us by exploring the entire end to end process within the electricity industry and the range of courses we get to undertake to expand our knowledge base.
The next day:
We awoke to a beautiful sunny day in Launceston, and set about finding a nice place to eat for breakfast. We settled on the café that offered an all you can eat breakfast – who doesn’t love stuffing their face before a whole day of judging.
With a full stomach, we hopped in the car and drove the fifteen minutes to the conference centre. A range of school students from across Tasmania had already arrived and were preparing to race their cars, and present on their projects.
The debrief began with the head of the F1 in Schools STEM professionals challenge indicating our judging areas, and teaming us up with our partner judges for the day. I had been selected to view and mark on all of the verbal presentations the students would be giving.
As the first team rolled through the door, my nerves set it. ‘I was only a graduate, how was I going to assess the performance of students, I was only a student 12 months ago?’ These are only a snapshot of the thoughts that went through my head – but it was then I realised, TasNetworks truly believed in what I could do, they trusted me to represent the business, they were giving me the chance to show what I could accomplish given the chance - so I took it in my stride and the day began.
After watching the first presentation, I realised that these students really know what they are doing. It offered an insight into what everyone is capable of given the chance, and with my partner judge, we saw the potential that they could have on the future of STEM within Australia.
Lunch – while the students were off making final tweaks to their cars, the judges and leaders from the F1 in Schools STEM professionals challenge were having a discussion around a big long table.
While it was exhilarating sitting with professionals from all over Tasmania, you sit there wondering how as a fresh starter like myself, can have meaningful input into the conversation. Alas, they all made us feel welcome, and were eager to hear how we ended up at the same table as them.
Judging resumed, and it was back to the presentations for myself and my judging partner. Again, the afternoon was full of incredible students, and their incredible projects. In the end, judging became a difficult task as they were all so talented, and to rate them out of ten seemed an impersonal task.
As the judging wrapped up, the presentations and awards began. Given the incredible workload that everyone put it, the judges were having a hard time calculating and aggregating the scores – so the stalling began.
Myself and my TasNetworks colleague were called up on stage to give an overview of how we found our first judging day. This also included the involvement we had in mentoring the Queechy High School F1 team that TasNetworks sponsors. Standing in front of all the students, teachers and parents really teaches you show to deal with public speaking, and forces you to stay cool even if you feel like running a million miles.
Finally, the scores were in and the awards began. A huge round of applause came out for the various award winners; seeing the joy in parents, students and teachers eyes to be rewarded for the hard work they had put in definitely made everything worthwhile.
The journey back to Hobart began.
Inspired by the event, my colleague and I began devising a plan on how we could grow the program in Tasmania, and specifically in the Greater Hobart region. This led both of us in developing a proposal for the TasNetworks scholarship, awarding funding to produce a project of your design and delivering on outcomes for the business and your own personal development.
Our project idea was to set up a hub STEM location in the south which all schools could use to build and test their cars, with my colleague and I offering mentoring and guidance on how to navigate the F1 in Schools STEM Professionals Challenge.
(P.S) - We were successful in receiving this scholarship, adding to the value TasNetworks places on its Graduates.