The Dandenong High School (DHS) 2018 Awards night was a very fitting climax to another successful year for the Vernier Foundation’s STEM Collaboration Program.

This year, the Foundation introduced three individual achievement awards for DHS students as part of its 3-year rolling program with the school to promote STEM education and careers.  The financial awards were created for the first time in 2018 from donations from Vernier Society members and in particular Sutton Tools, who in addition to cash, donated a special tooling prize.

The event, held at the Robert Blackwood Hall on the Monash University campus and proudly attended  by students and parents was a real eye-opener for Vernier Society members who attended, both in terms of the professionalism of the event but also of the wealth of young talent on display across the  arts, science and community service.

Those who work in manufacturing, particularly for a long while like many of the Vernier Society members, would be entitled to think that there is no more rewarding sight than innovative products, all bright and new, be they CNC Machines, Automotives, Aerospace components or high technology products ready for delivery to anticipating customers.

However, the DHS Award night showed that the teaching profession can offer just the same satisfaction; it is just they have the opportunity to build innovative, talented people, not products!

Pictured are Peter Sutton, Shireen Ahmed, Konah Leslie-Evans and Jack Parr

It was a night of pleasure for the audience, the award presenters and in particular the Vernier Foundation representatives, Peter Sutton and Jack Parr who were on stage to present the awards to three outstanding STEM students.

The ‘Sutton Tooling Prize’ was awarded to Shireen Ahmed for her work in the year 9 STEM Elective.  According to her tutors, Shireen was nominated for her commitment to STEM learning taking two STEM based electives in 2018; ‘STEM’ and ‘Applied Science’ and demonstrating her love of understanding how machines and systems operate by playing a significant role in the design and development of the year team’s car design project.

The second recipient was Ali Haidar Qasimi for his work in Year 10 Robotics, but was unfortunately ill on the night and not able to personally receive his award.  In the view of his tutors, Ali has a real passion for learning robotics and applying logical thinking to their creation.  Ali adds to this with diligence and hard work, which underpinned his achieved success in all the project work.

The final award went to Year 11 VCE Systems Engineering student Konah Leslie- Evans who demonstrated his strong interest in STEM learning over the year, including developing his own interest in coding for image editing.  Konah has also been intensely involved in DHS’s very successful Robots Program, demonstrating his ability to analyse, interpret, evaluate and solve problems.

The other consistent message from the tutors at DHS, who chose the winners, was the contribution of all the three recipients to their fellow class members learning.  Shireen was complimented for being “an excellent role model for younger students at the Science Expo”; Ali for his “his ability to collaborate well” and Konah for his team involvement “routinely helping the student he is sat next to”.  The interdisciplinary nature of engineering projects today means that these young people’s ‘team working skills’ will add to their chances of a successful career in future!

The Vernier Foundation is the charitable wing of the Vernier Society.  The Foundation’s “School STEM Collaboration Project” is a 3-year project with a limited number of schools, of which DHS is one, to promote STEM learning and development.  The project is primarily focused on providing donations for the purchase of robotic education kits, tools and components in each of the three years but in 2018, the Foundation introduced three personal awards, across the years 9 to 11, for students who demonstrated exemplary commitment to STEM learning and development. 

The Foundation is always looking for additional funds to expand the Collaboration Project to more schools and in particular develop the support into apprenticeships and work experience projects.  Any organisation or individual who is interested in providing a donation or becoming more actively involved should contact the Foundation Coordinator Jack Parr through the Vernier Society website or at