The inaugural UCL STEMfest 2019 introduced STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields to students in the science streams of leading schools with a range of hands-on activities, interactive demonstrations and STEM-oriented entertainment at the UCL Campus recently. The event organized by the student-led STEM Club of Universal College Lanka (UCL) sought to further the vision of engaging young minds to solve real-life problems. Whilst the students were provided with the opportunity to interact with academics and Monash students at UCL, Course Leaders of Science and ICT faculties of Monash made an online presentation on STEM and the world-class facilities offered at Monash University.
The event was graced by the presence of leading industry professionals who provided students with a new perspective on innovation and its crucial role in the advancement of STEM fields. Dr. Beshan Kulapala, the Chief Guest and Keynote Speaker, engaged the audience with an overview of the manufacturing process of the innovative supercar VEGA. Dr. Kulapala is the Director of CodeGen and Vega Innovations, a leading tech company, currently expanding the frontiers of the country’s technological landscape, manufacturing Sri Lanka’s first fully electronic supercar from scratch.
Other highlights of the event included a quiz contest, a spaghetti bridge competition and an aero-plane challenge providing opportunities for engagement and exchange between students and STEM experts. These events were conducted by the UCL academic staff, notably Dr. Dhanajay Kulkarni, Dean of Academic Affairs, Monash Science Alumni Ms. Asiri Perera, Programme Coordinator of the Monash University Foundation Year, and Mr. Maduranga Pillai, the Faculty Coordinator of UCL STEMfest 2019. The UCL STEM Club members fostered communication with the schoolchildren by acting as mentors, guiding them through challenges and providing helpful tips for the competitions.
The aero-plane challenge competition, which allowed students to understand key aerodynamic concepts through the launch of a simple paper aero-plane, was judged by Mr. Tilak Dissanayake, a specialist in aerodynamics, with 15 years of experience at the airline manufacturing giant Boeing. The spaghetti bridge competition introduced basic civil engineering concepts, allowing students to have fun while constructing their own model bridge. The Quiz which was formulated by UCL STEM Club Members and conducted by Ms. Asiri Perera engaged the audience with questions from a variety of STEM fields, encouraging scientific thinking.
The students enthusiastically participated in all these activities, whilst the teachers of the respective schools participated in an interactive learning workshop, hosted by the UCL academic staff, facilitating communication between educators at the school and university level. Winners of the competitions were awarded prizes by Dr. Harsha Alles, Director of UCL and Chairman Gateway Group of Organisations and Mr. Gihan Silva, CEO of UCL. Participants were recognized and awarded certificates in appreciation of all forms of engagement in STEM-related activities at the event. UCL hopes to build upon the success of this event and organize more events of this stature, fostering interest for STEM education in young minds.