Metallurgy tour give explosive inspiration to rural students

April 29, 2014

Murdoch University’s roaming metallurgists are visiting the Pilbara and the Kimberley next week to fire up high school students about the magic of metals.

Graeme Thompson and Ken Seymour from Murdoch’s School of Engineering and Information Technology are visiting Pilbara schools for three days before moving onto Broome.

“The students will be treated to a really explosive show, as some of these experiments have quite a bit of pop,” said Mr Thompson, a current PhD student.

“We will show them metal reactions in flames that produce coloured sparks, like those used in fireworks, and we also will demonstrate how iron oxide and aluminium can react to create molten iron ore at 2500 degrees.”

“The molten iron ore reaction is used to fuse railroad tracks together, so it’s a good demonstration of chemistry’s power and its application.”

Students will get hands on experience during the sessions as well, extracting copper metal from ore using acid, steel wool and electricity.

The Pilbara visit is part of Murdoch University’s ongoing ‘Extracting Talent for Metallurgy’ program, which travels around Western Australia to inspire students to take an interest in mining industry careers.

The program has been funded for $100,000 over five years by Rio Tinto with support from Murdoch University, which Mr Thompson sees as a sound investment for students and the nation.

“Minerals and energy are at the centre of Australian life, making up roughly 50 per cent of the nation’s export income. In order to keep the industry running effectively, we need to add 60 to 100 new extractive metallurgists each year,” Mr Thompson said.

“At the moment, Australian universities are graduating about 50, so the math is pretty simple. We want students to see mineral extraction as an exciting, and well compensated career option.”

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Media contact: Pepita Smyth
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Categories: General, Teaching and Learning, Future Students, School of Engineering and Information Technology Research
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