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Toyota Community Trust Beneficiaries Spark Inspiration among Students with Stem Initiatives

The beneficiaries of grants provided by the Toyota Community Trust are making a difference in the next generation with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) related projects.


Initiated two years ago through a $32 million endowment, the Trust supports young people in Melbourne's west to pursue further study and careers in STEM through the funding of grants.

Spark Engineering Camp (Youth Without Borders) was selected as a grant recipient in January 2019. The week-long camp encourages year 10-12 high school students from non-traditional backgrounds to learn more about careers in STEM by participating in hands-on engineering activities. This year, Toyota Community Trust funding enabled an additional 25 students from Melbourne's west to attend.

During the camp held last month, students developed personal skills, met likeminded people and interacted with industry professionals to find out more about careers and studies in this growing sector. This included sessions with senior representatives from Toyota Australia's Product Planning and Development division - Cameron Brimelow, Manager of Technical Services and Peter Elliott, Manager of Design. Cameron and Peter presented information about the car design process and the different types of equipment and skills needed to work in this area.

Werribee Open Range Zoo has also been inspiring students in Melbourne's west. Home to some of Africa's most iconic animals, the Trust grant awarded in July 2018 was used to fund a ten-week program for students to design solutions to real-world conservation-inspired STEM challenges faced by the zoo.

On Friday, more than 40 students from the Wyndham area showed off their top ideas for the zoo and its animals at the zoo's first STEM Education Program showcase.

The students' projects ranged from unique animal enrichment items to redesigned enclosures. The ideas were presented to keepers and other zoo staff, who will consider adopting some of the keen creators' most promising innovations. 

Werribee Zoo Education Officer, Erin Copeland said the program was a huge success. 

"There's a growing need for STEM education in the West and we want to give teachers a way to connect students to STEM through the real world, so they see it's not just a topic at school but something they can use in the future," she said. 

Toyota Australia Vice President Product & Corporate Operations, Mike Rausa attended the zoo for the showcase and said in this ever-evolving digital age, it's critical to encourage STEM studies as a career path for the next generation.

"At Toyota we are passionate about supporting the next generation of STEM talent and during the past two years, the Trust has supported 20 projects led by various organisations in this area. STEM education is vital for solving challenges that we're facing today, and those we are likely to face long into the future. The solutions demonstrated by the students through the Werribee Zoo Project are truly inspiring," said Mr Rausa. 

A new round of Toyota Community Trust grants will be announced shortly. 

About the Toyota Community Trust

The Toyota Community Trust was created by Toyota Australia in October of 2017 to honour the legacy of its proud history of local manufacturing in Australia. 

Initiated through a $32 million endowment, the Trust aims to encourage young people in Melbourne's west to pursue further study and careers in STEM. The program has now been extended to include projects located in Western Sydney and Albury-Wodonga.

Read more about the Toyota Community Trust here.