A NSW Government website


Science and Engineering Challenge

The judging panel, including Federal Member for Bennelong, Mr John Alexander MP, watching disaster unfold at the 2019 SEC.
The judging panel, including the Federal Member for Bennelong, Mr John Alexander MP, watching disaster unfold at the 2019 Science and Engineering Challenge.

The Office of the NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer is the principal sponsor of the Science and Engineering Challenge (SEC). This event is run by the University of Newcastle and allows NSW high school students in Years 9 and 10 the chance to experience how science and engineering can help to solve real-world problems in a fun, competitive setting. Teams of students from different schools compete against each other in a series of eight challenges, including:

  • Bridge: students construct a model bridge out of balsa wood and masking tape, which then has to support a railcar carrying increasingly heavy weights as it races across a test rig.
  • Hover Frenzy: design, build and fly a model hovercraft that is fast, manoeuvrable and maintains hover height.
  • Future Power: avoid a blackout in Future City by balancing energy needs and a range of power stations to choose from.
  • Helter Skelter Shelter: towers are constructed from common materials and then tested for strength and stability, through the use of weights and a shaking base which simulates an earthquake.

Qualifying teams compete in the NSW Finals, with the NSW champion school participating in the Science and Engineering Challenge National Final.

For information on any SEC events you should contact Challenge@newcastle.edu.au and visit their website here.

Below, a selection of images show the fun, ingenuity and mayhem on display at an SEC Challenge Day held at Sydney Olympic Park's Quaycentre in March 2019.

Students competing in the power grid event of the 2019 SECA student builds a balsa wood bridge at the 2019 SEC.

The NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer with two high school students.Eight schools watch the bridge construction challenge at the 2019 SEC.