EB Mentorships: Girton Grammar and Transurban

Students from a Central Victorian school have been given valuable insight into the life skills they can draw from participating in Energy Breakthrough (EB), following an industry mentor session with major toll road operator Transurban.

The session — delivered online for students at Girton Grammar — forms part of an EB Mentorship Program, which connects students with STEM related industry professionals to demonstrate ways the Energy Breakthrough experience can lead to future careers. Mentors also provide consultation and support to students and coordinators as they complete their design and presentations, and builds throughout the year. 

For the Girton team, a mentorship has been established with Vettri Ganesan, who works as a Business Strategy Lead for Transurban. Mr Ganesan studied engineering at an undergraduate and postgraduate level. 

Meeting online last week, Mr Ganesan spoke candidly about his professional and academic journey, and how his aspirations during high school and university led him on a path to success.

‘[I talked about] what did I do when I was [their] age, what were the things I looked forward to, what I studied,’ he said.

Mr Ganesan attributes his professional success to the skills he gained during his engineering studies, such as critical thinking, statistics, and data analysis.

Girton Grammar teacher Nigel Vernon coordinates the Energy Breakthrough program for his students. The Girton Racing team compete on an extra-curricular basis, meaning their participation in Energy Breakthrough and other events isn’t part of their school work. 

‘We’ve been on this journey for quite a while’, he said. ‘Part of this year was a mentorship program with Transurban.’

Student and team member Ben, introduced the Girton Racing Team, their vehicles and listed the competitions they attend annually. 

‘We have five vehicles: one electric vehicle; one that can be converted from pedal vehicle into hybrid and; three pedal vehicles’, he said.

‘We race in the Vic series, and the SA series with add ons such as the Bendigo Grand Prix and Maryborough.’

They also compete on an international stage. Last year team member Jess competed in Kuala Lumpur at the Sapang International Circuit in the shell eco marathon. Jess was one of two female pilots who competed in that event. The Girton Racing team were the only Australian team who competed and the only high school team to enter the competition overall.

‘It’s all done after hours – it’s not built into the school curriculum’, Mr Vernon says.  

‘So that’s us – a group who meets after school just to do what we love to do.’

Education State Forum

Girton Racing Team watching the presentation from their Transurban mentor, Vettri Ganesan. Image: Girton Grammar. 

And though they can’t race in 2020, due to Covid-19, they’ve continued their development in a hope 2021 will allow a return to racing.

‘We’ve been very fortunate, we’ve kept in touch with Vettri from Transurban who was nominated as our mentor.’

As Mr. Vernon explains, it’s a rare opportunity for his students to connect with a large organisation and industry professionals. 

‘You don’t get a lot of these opportunities unfortunately, where you’ve actually got somebody out in the field who lives and breathes what we’re talking about,’ he said. 

‘The students can think about a real world problem and pitch it back to Transurban.’

Mr Vernon and the Girton Racing Team are tasked with finding a solution to the following theoretical problem posed within their local community relating to electric vehicle uptake. 

If you were tasked with increasing usage of Electric Vehicles in Bendigo and surrounding areas to 100% in five years… what would you do? 

Eventually the Girton Racing Team will meet with their Transurban mentor Mr Ganesan to discuss their solution and crosscheck their ideas with actions that are being supported by Transurban in the space of electric vehicles. 

If you are interested in being in a partnership with Transurban as part of the mentor program, or would like to find out more about the program for your school please send an email to Jeremy at jeremy@cep.org.au.