Michael Engemann and Damien Tonkin

Michael Engemann and Damien Tonkin

Damien and Michael are year 12 students from Dickson College in Canberra. They are designing, building and flying UAVs to deliver life-saving rescue supplies to lost tourists stranded in the outback.


Why you should listen to them

Damien has taken on the role of project manager for the school’s UAV team while Michael specialises mostly with the technical design and functionality of the airplanes. Together they are part of a team that includes students from all disciplines, learning what can’t be learnt inside the four walls of the typical classroom.

Damien currently studies a wide range of subjects at Dickson College, and is particularly enthusiastic about cross-disciplinary learning, through use of the latest cutting edge technology and broad course materials. Since beginning the Unmanned Airborne Vehicle project Damien has gained a special interest in utilising large-scale projects that mobilise large groups of people with varying skill sets towards a common goal, and also how schools in the future might do more to expose the students to real-world situations that require real-world problem solving. Damien believes that large, school wide projects such as the UAV project are a great way to teach students valuable life skills that can’t ordinarily be learned in a classroom.

Among many other IT classes, Michael has been studying robotics at Dickson College, starting off with modest Lego robots and building his way up to Unmanned Airborne Vehicles that can fly themselves. It’s been a learning experience that will never be forgotten. It has caught his appetite, and he plans to continue this field of study in university next year, and then hopefully work on projects such as this as a career. He believes projects like this bring all sorts of people together, allowing them to learn from one another and further progress as individuals and as a group.

They hope to get more schools involved in projects like this, where life skills are leant, better preparing students for whatever comes their way next.

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