Akorn Education

Student Testimonials

"By applying my skills this past week, I will be able to better understand how different sciences (physics etc.) are applied in real life, which makes subjects more interesting and will enhance my experience. I have also gathered a greater understanding into the lives of people living with disabilities and the physical and attitudinal barriers they encounter which has given me greater awareness."

Full STEaM Ahead


Student, Viewbank College

"I really enjoyed this program because it gave us the chance to complete a project that meant something in real life . We weren’t just given a brief that meant nothing to us, we learnt about people with disabilities and then figured out a way to improve their lives. I also loved designing 3D printing designs and using the 3D printers . This program helped me to realise what engineers actually do, and I now realise that it is a possible career path. This program has had a big impact on me and I will remember it for a long time."

Full STEaM Ahead


Student, Padua College

"The sense of satisfaction I had at the end of the week, after my four colleagues and I had presented our findings, was overwhelming because I felt that I had put a lot of work into what we had done. The research we did helped my leadershp skills and my independent learning. It gave me a new perspective on some of the things I take for granted such as the ability to see, and it allowed me to perform important tasks and duties that I didn’t know I had the capability of doing."

Science Students @ Work

*This group was given the task of developing an audio commentary for the visually impaired when visiting Scienceworks.

William McKorkell

Student, St. Bernard’s College

"I’ve never learned so much in one week – not just about engineering, but working together as a team, learning and using organizational skills – I would definitely to it again!"

Engineering Students @ Work

*This group was given the task to research and design a “green” building by Norman Disney & Young.

Nhung Tran

Student, Santa Maria College

"I’m one of the students from Santa Maria who participated in the first Engineering Students @ Work with you at Norman Disney & Young . I probably haven’t had the chance to properly thank you for the giving students like us the chance to experience work in such an exciting field like Engineering . I am emailing to let you know that I’m doing a double degree at RMIT in Environmental Engineering and Environmental Science. My future plans are to major in hydraulics . Before I went to NDY, I had no intentions of being an engineer. If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be here, already dreaming about becoming an engineer . And for that I would like to thank you. Please let Peter Koulos and his staff at NDY know how thankful I am for their company hosting our group. One week of their time has absolutely changed my life. Thank you so much!"

Engineering Students @ Work

*This group was given the task of developing an audio commentary for the visually impaired when visiting Scienceworks.

Sneha Bhattachan

Former Student, Santa Maria College

"I very much enjoyed being a part of the Cardboard Challenge. It was an eye opening experience, learning that amazing things can be created out of materials as simple as cardboard. I enjoyed interacting with students from other schools, and working together as a team. Overall, it was a great day, and I would highly recommend this experience to other students."

Cardboard Engineering Challenge


Student, Our Lady of Sion

"Participating in the Akorn Cardboard Engineering Challenge was a great opportunity to make new friends, build skills of teamwork and problem solving, and all up have a great time."

Cardboard Engineering Challenge


Student, Our Lady of Sion

What teachers say…


Teacher, Catholic Regional College – St. Albans

Cardboard Engineering Challenge

“The students from my school enjoyed the chance to team build with other schools and collaboratively problem solve . The day was very well structured and just the right length to keep all participant fully engaged. Students have come away from the event with a better understanding of how good design can help solve some of the issues society faces today . The whole day was a very worthwhile experience for both students and teachers.”

Frank Fabri

Teacher, St. Peter’s Primary School

Primary ‘Full STEaM Ahead’ Program

“Participating students are now their Ambassadors to ‘Creating Fair Spaces’. The Bathroom project inspired many of our students to consider so many aspects of what assistive devices actually provide . The See Think and Wonder slideshows aim to capture the students thinking, as the thinking behind the building experience provides valuable evidence of the thinking required to be an Ambassador.”

Simon Lindsay

General Manager of Improved Learning Outcomes, Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools

Cardboard Engineering Challenge

“These are the ultimate science programs for students – working on real science problems, in real science workplaces for real purposes that benefit society.”

Anne Ferrie

Learning & Teacher Leader, Our Lady of the Rosary, Kyneton

Primary ‘Full STEaM Ahead’ Program

“This Program encompasses both creative thinking and also the practical construction skills to think of a solution and then make it happen. As teachers we are always looking for new ways to inspire our students, to encourage them to empathise with others and to look to see how they can make this world a better place. This project combines all these elements – it encourages students to think beyond their own daily problems and to see the needs of others in our society and then to be creative and use all their own personal capabilities to think of something that would be of benefit to someone whose daily routines are just that little bit harder. Watching how motivated our students were on the initial day and in follow up conversations about what all the possibilities are has in turn motivated us and ignited a spark for us to pursue incorporating this kind of problem solving into our Inquiry Units and possibly our specialist program.”

Vanessa Jackson-McRae

Faculty Leader-Science, St . Catherine’s School

Primary ‘Full STEaM Ahead’ Program

“The collaboration between the school, Akorn and the host organisations gives students an opportunity they could not envisage within the classroom . Students develop time management skills, leadership, initiative, teamwork, public speaking, self confidence, applying technical skills to real life issues and most importantly to the community.”

*The Sharing The Journey To Healing Diary developed and published by students at St. Catherine’s School is being distributed to burn survivors through The KIDS Foundation.

Assimina Semertjis

Head of Science, Siena College, Camberwell

STEaM for Humanity

“During this hands-on ‘STEAM for Humanity’ workshop, Year 10 students were immersed in designing a public facility with the aim of making it accessible to all members of our community . Before designing, students participated in empathy building activities and were surprised to learn that 20% of our world’s population possess some kind of impairment that places restrictions on their lives. Students then experienced first-hand how difficult life can be for these members of our community by participating in a number of everyday practical activities using mobility equipment, such as wheel chairs, pickup frames, walking sticks, white support canes and crutches. Students described how difficult it was to complete everyday tasks when relying upon mobility equipment and how frustrating these restrictions were. They found the simple task of moving in and out of a wheel chair without the ability to move their legs extremely challenging and now noticed elevations in the pavement as an obstacle, particularly if the incline was of a short distance and steep. With the challenges experienced in this activity in mind, students worked collaboratively using the unique ‘Enable Kits’ to design and build an inclusive facility. Teams considered ways they could engineer the environment to allow all people to access the building’s features, such as including outside shelter and seating for those waiting to use the facility and pressure sensory on the ground to open doors for those in wheel chairs. We would like to thank Ms Georgene Bridgeman and Mr Adam Oldmeadow from Akorn Educational Services for presenting this workshop and assisting our Year 10 students to acquire new STEAM skills.” 

‘STEM For Humanity’ Teacher Professional Learning

I cannot speak highly enough about this PD. I walked away with: new STEM specific knowledge, new ideas, a new found sense of confidence with my ability to develop and implement STEM programs at my school, new friends and a network of like minded colleagues. AMAZING PL! THANK YOU!” 

Host Organization Testimonials

Chris Malan

Director – Engineering Operations, GM Holden Ltd

“Our involvement with the Akorn Engineering Students @ Work program was initially driven by our strategic and long term initiative to increase the number of female students considering and selecting Engineering as a career option. After realising the benefits this program provides by allowing students to be fully immersed in a real life engineering project we have now broadened the scope to include male and co-educational schools. The programs have proven to be a huge success not only for the students involved but also our Engineers who as mentors, are provided with an invaluable opportunity to develop their leadership skills.

Sam Aloi

Director, Norman Disney & Young


“You [the students] have delivered a building – a project in accordance with a client brief with innovation and with great success. You’ve learned about energy, emissions, recycling of materials, transport and innovation and come up with a sustainable solution.”

Daniel A’Vard

Vice President – Victoria Region, Engineers Without Borders Australia

Yr 9 Engineering Students @ Work Humanitarian Conference Days

“We were blown away by the enthusiasm, ingenuity and engineering problem solving shown by the students. In one day, they developed concepts far beyond any of our expectations and that resemble the solutions we are implementing in the field.”

Program Partner Testimonials

– Akorn Education

The students reflected that they really enjoyed learning and working in this way and using maths made sense when it was applied to a real project. Student voice was included so that within the parameter of a broad design brief (creating an assistive device to help someone else), students were able to research and then choose the types of problem they would like to solve. They really enjoyed developing an engaging presentation of their work to members of the community and confidently and articulately answering questions to draw out their understanding of the various STEM discipline content areas, which had been part of their project learnings. 

Teachers reflected on the initial challenge of stepping back and giving up some control of the project to the students, including the choices of problems, solutions and allocation/sharing of tasks (developing their skills in cooperative group work). They particularly commented on the engagement and commitment of the students to go beyond the first superficial solutions to going deeper into research and problem solving as well as their willingness to persist and experiment with creative ideas and building resilience through early failures as they iterated their tested designs for final results.

[Written Reference regarding our 2017 trial Primary FSA Program]

Shelley Waldon

Science & STEM Lead, Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools

With a recognised shortage of skilled engineers in the Australian workforce, it is incumbent upon the engineering industry to inform and promote the exciting opportunities and rewards that the engineering profession can offer. The concept of “Engineering Students @ Work” was conceived in 2009 between Norman Disney & Young and Akorn Educational Services and provides the link into schools for students to experience the engineering profession. The objectives of the program are to provide a realistic engineering experience for secondary students, allow students to learn about the diversity and vitality of engineering, work with active professional engineers and develop an understanding of collaborative working.

The students who have participated in this program have all taken the challenge presented and come up with some novel sustainable design solutions. The real success of the program has been in exposing students to engineering and helping to develop their team work, presentation skills and time management skills. NDY has been pleased with the response to the program and will be continuing this program in 2011 with four schools planned to attend NDY’s Melbourne offices. At the same time we are seeking other firms to join the Engineering Students @ Work program and work to promote and invigorate current students to the exciting opportunities of the engineering profession.

Peter Koulos

Former Director at Norman Disney & Young. Current Director at Atmos Consulting.

Akorn’s Full STEaM Ahead programs provide young people with not only the opportunity to experience STEM but also to engage with the community, technology and industry whilst gaining access to Engineers and other professionals. I am pleased and proud to be an ambassador for Akorn’s Full STEaM Ahead programs. Our young people are our future, and having been a mentor for a number of Akorn’s programs to date, I am excited about what the future holds. I’ve been impressed with their ideas and what they bring to life through design and prototyping – it’s wonderful to see how proud they are at the completion of the program.

Benita Husband

CEO – pitt&sherry (Engineering Consultancy), Deputy President & Committee Member, Engineers Australia – Victoria Division, FIEAust, CPEng, RBP(Vic), BE (Hons), MBA