Oliver Nicholls (2017) has been awarded first place in the Engineering category at the BHP Billiton Foundation Science and Engineering Awards in Melbourne.

Oliver who completed his HSC last year, is also one of nine NSW students sponsored to attend the world’s largest international pre-college science competition - the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in May 2018. Approximately 1800 high school students from more than 75 countries will attend the Fair to showcase their independent research.

“I have always been interested in engineering and how things work,” Oliver said. I was inspired by Dr Karl Kruszelnicki AM and his curiosity about the world.

“Barker has allowed me to fuel my curiosity. The Year 9 Science program at Barker first introduced me to the Young Scientist Awards in which I have come 3rd twice. I also was a finalist in the BHP awards in 2015 allowing me to spend a week in Melbourne with the CSIRO seeing and learning about some really cool things like 3d titanium printers.”

Oliver has been involved in robotics at Barker since its inception. “The first fully functioning robot made by Barker College was constructed in our home driveway in 2014 with six students and two mentors. Since this time “Team 4613 Barker Redbacks” has evolved, with the tremendous support of the School, to include over 200 students in four programs. The senior FRC team constructed a new robot each year and we have travelled the world competing in competitions, including China, Canada and two trips to the World Championships in the USA.”

Oliver’s passion for STEM and robotics allowed him the opportunity to merge engineering with robotics for his HSC Design and Technology major work.

“I used new skills and applied my knowledge to a real world problem by designing and building a robotic window cleaner for high rise buildings. It was a big risk taking on such a complex project and I was never sure if I could pull it off until the very end,” Oliver said.

“I’m so excited that this journey is continuing and I can’t wait to head off to USA in May for Intel ISEF. It will be a great opportunity for me to represent Australia on the world stage with my HSC Design and Technology project.”