Hawkei ignites young minds

Earlier this month a group of excited staff from Thales's Bendigo site spent the day at Kennington Primary School, giving the children a much-appreciated insight into life as an Engineer. The students also got to see first-hand the end product of clever engineering - a Hawkei.

Jamie Gilbertson, Sam Martinella, Jay Siriwardana, and Datta Hedge took classes from various grades, focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths (STEAM) activities to suit the ages of the children.

The youngest kids worked on aerofoils and paper planes, considering specific aerodynamic factors, while the seniors constructed chassis frames out of paddle pop sticks and competed to see which design could withstand the heaviest weight. 

Meanwhile, Rhett Nankervis manned the Hawkei, delivering key messages about resilience and fielding questions about the vehicle, its design and was even questioned about the internal workings of the onboard batteries.

“Some of the questions were a bit left of field,” Rhett says with a laugh. “But that’s what makes it fun! If I didn’t love engineering so much, I’d be a primary school STEAM teacher in a heartbeat.”

Todd Canobie, one of the teachers who helped set the day up noted that all of the teachers “had some awesome things to say about the positive learning experiences for all of the children. They were highly engaged in the activities and the expert presenters from Thales were very well received. Our teachers were so impressed with just how engaging it was for the children, and what a fantastic opportunity it was for our students to be exposed to problem solving activities.”

Todd says some of the student’s questions took him by surprise.

“They asked things like how Thales transports the Hawkei around the world, what type of fuel it runs on, and what the main purpose of the Hawkei is and why it had been designed that way. They were clearly thinking deeply about it all.”

Thales Australia’s Director Technical & Engineering PRV Josh Di Camillo organised the event from Thales’s side noted that the engineers who took part in the day were extremely proud of how successful it was.

“Some of them have children at Kennington Primary,” he said. “Naturally they were so excited to spend the day with their kids. To be honest I think it was a tie for who was prouder, the parents or the kids. Overall it was an amazing day and we’re looking forward to other schools organising an event like this with us in the future.”

Surviving the Kids Quiz

Rhett presented to over 600 children on the day and was fascinated by the questions that were thrown at him by the students. Here are three of his highlights:

“What kind of fuel does it use & can it run on other fuels?”

This threw me a bit from a Grade 2 student (Definitely a future Thales Engineer), but it was a great opportunity to talk about the Hawkei’s ability to sense what fuel is in it (Diesel or JP8) and change the way it runs accordingly.

“What happens if the tyre gets a flat?”

This one offered me a nice segway into talking about the CTIS (Central Tyre Inflation System) and the internal run flat and bead lock.

“How much does it weigh?”

I figured the simple “Over 10 tonne” answer wouldn’t mean much, so I put it this way - that’s 6 of your parents Commodores or Falcons!