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Mackay students power to the world stage

​Mackay North’s F1 STEM Challenge team

It’s just 20cm long and weighs 50 grams but this miniature F1 styled drag car has taught students at Mackay North State High School a lot about determination, hard work and collaboration.

The team of 4 students and 1 teacher joined forces with a team from Perth to travel to Abu Dhabi for the finals of the 2019 F1 for Schools STEM Challenge and placed ninth overall—a feat 10 years in the making.

Industrial Technology and Design teacher Rowan Cahill said the challenge was a tough one.

'I don't know of any other competition in the country that requires such a mixture of skills from design and mathematics, to entrepreneurial, public speaking and business,' Mr Cahill said.

'The skills these students have developed along the way will stick with them for life.

'It’s been a phenomenal opportunity for them to reach this level of an international competition and travel overseas and compete on the world stage.'

Mr Cahill said the students had aimed to place in the top 20 and were thrilled to have claimed ninth position. They also were amongst the top three teams in the Best Enterprise and Marketing portfolio category. 

'Mackay North has been entering the challenge for over a decade but this is the first time a team has made it to the world finals,' he said.

'For several months almost every lunch time and countless afternoons after school the students worked on their entry.

'The team had to design and build the car but they also had to approach companies for donations or in-kind support. That’s a big ask for 15 and 16 year olds.'

Mr Cahill said he was extremely proud of the students.

Teams use CAD/CAM software to design, manufacture and race miniature compressed gas powered F1 cars capable of reaching 80 kilometres an hour in under 1 second down a 20-metre track. Entries are assessed on numerous criteria including project management, marketing, graphic design, engineering and manufacturing.

Now in its 16th year, the F1 in School STEM Challenge attracts students from more than 17,000 schools worldwide. This year 55 teams from more than 30 countries participated in the finals.

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia (CC BY 3.0) ( )
Last updated
24 February 2020