Engineers Australia’s national schools engineering outreach program has hit 100,000 participants, making it Australia’s largest school outreach program.

Dubbed EngQuest, the program has been running for 13 years and was already the largest engineering initiative for schools in Australia.

The EngQuest program offers teachers free resources and ongoing support for introducing science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) tasks to the classroom, while linking to the National Schools Curriculum.

Reports showing a decline in the number of secondary students studying STEM subjects in their final years of school are of deep concern to the engineering profession. According to Engineers Australia, this poses a great risk for the sustainability of Australia’s future economy.

“Engineering offers a diverse and rewarding career, and Engineers Australia works hard to attract the best minds to our profession. As part of this, we’re committed to ensuring that young people see engineering as a viable and attractive career option,” said Engineers Australia chief executive officer Stephen Durkin.

“Much of the success of EngQuest can be attributed to the program being specifically adapted to the school learning environment, coupled with the positive influence of experienced engineers who volunteer their time to visit schools and engage with students.”

“In this technology-led era, everything we do involves maths, science, technology and engineering.  It’s critical that young minds engage with STEM subjects to increase long-term growth in the number of secondary students who are able to enter engineering and other high-tech occupations.”

The EngQuest program has received significant positive feedback.

An impressive 98 per cent of teachers looking after the 40,000 students participating in last year’s event said EngQuest had helped their students achieve curriculum outcomes in maths, science and technology.

Some of the challenges this year include building a solar cooker, designing a water wheel and constructing a newspaper dome.