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ATSE Eminent Speaker 2017

ECU School of Science was honoured to host Professor Phil Bland, from Curtin University’s Fireballs in the Sky program, at a free lecture for more than 200 local high school students on 29th June 2017.

Professor Bland visited the Joondalup campus as part of the Eminent Speaker Series facilitated by the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE).

Hundreds of budding scientists and engineers from years 7 through 10 were inspired by Professor Bland’s extensive knowledge of astronomy and engineering as they learned about the scientific processes – and challenges – underpinning a network of meteor cameras across Australia.

The Desert Fireball Network is a research project aiming to uncover the mysteries surrounding the formation of the solar system through the study of meteorites.  Using an autonomous network of observatories, built from scratch with custom and consumer parts, these cameras track and triangulate fireballs, the fall positions of the meteorites and their pre-earth orbits from multiple viewpoints. Professor Bland delighted the students with the story of travelling to South Australia to find a meteorite in the Lake Eyre region – complete with being covered in mud!

The WA Chair of ATSE, Professor Alison Ord, introduced Professor Bland, noting the importance of studying in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths (STEM) fields. It is estimated that 75 per cent of the fastest growing occupations now require STEM skills, and this may grow in future.

Following Professor Bland’s lecture and facilitated question and answer session, students were heard from three postgraduate engineering students about their current research topics.

Local high schools represented at the event included Ballajura Community College, Belridge Secondary College, Ellenbrook Secondary College, Joseph Banks Secondary College, La Salle College, Morley Senior High School, and St Stephens School Duncraig.

The ATSE Eminent Speaker 2017 was supported by ECU’s School of Science engagement team, which facilitates initiatives aimed at raising aspirations in primary and secondary students to attend tertiary education. If you would like to find out more, please contact us at

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