Sunshine Beach State School students who are part of the school’s Academic Talent program recently visited Helitak Firefighting Equipment, a local design and manufacturing company based in Noosaville.
Helitak has developed a unique water tank which fits on the underbelly of various helicopters without modifications to the aircraft itself. The lightweight tanks, with a capacity ranging from 1000 to 10000 litres, have a special drop pattern which allows for more efficient firefighting. This design won ABC's New Inventors and People's Choice award in 2009. The tanks are now sold nationally as well as to North America and Europe.
Students spent an hour with pilot, engineer, inventor and director Jason Schellaars, touring the manufacturing floor, learning about the design process, the use of 3D printing and advanced materials such as carbon fibre. The students got an in-depth look at the micro-controller and code used to control the fill pumps and pneumatic drop mechanism. The highlight for many young inventors was to perform live testing of the actual product, by repeatedly filling the tank and dropping hundreds of litres of water into a container.
It was great to see many of the topics covered in class during the school year being used in real life products, such as 3D modelling and controlling hardware through software code. With the bush-fire season being front and centre currently, this excursion could not have come at a better time.
Sunshine Beach State School has extensively developed their technology program to cultivate the minds for our future.