Dr Damien Kee recently visited The Cathedral School to deliver a fun, educational and inspiring ‘Bionic Hand Challenge’ workshop focusing on robotics and programming. Our recently built technology and innovation hub provided the ideal collaboration space between Cathedral and fellow Gateway to Industry Schools Program (GISP) partner schools, Ignatius Park, and Kirwan State High School.
Year 7 students with their robotic hand construction, Bennett Mak, Evaan Joseph, and Samuel Galvin.

Robotics and automation are shaping the future of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) with a significant impact on the manufacturing industry.

Guest speaker Adam Packer from local engineering and steel manufacturing company TEi Services spoke about the use of robotics in industry to improve efficiency and safety in areas such as mining and construction. The technology often requires re-training for existing workers, but also provides new opportunities for students looking at ICT or Engineering as a career pathway.

According to workshop hosts Queensland Manufacturing Institute, there is a shortage of skilled manufacturing industry workers with knowledge and accreditation in CAD-based software. By providing workshops such as the ‘Bionic Hand Challenge’, the aim is to educate and inspire students to incorporate programming and computer related learning to broaden their future career options.

Adam Packer from TEi Services showing how robotics are being used in industry.
Bionic Hand Challenge

Utilising a drag-and-drop coding app based on Javascript, the students programmed a circuit board attached to a DIY cardboard hand via string to activate two micro-motors, and manipulate the finger motion. The crude but clever prototype was used to show how basic and inexpensive materials can be used as an introduction to robotics and coding.

Dr Damien Kee says it’s not necessarily about the materials but the process of construction. “The workshops allow students to gain real-world experience, getting involved, and having fun. Today they used cardboard which means they can get the device built very quickly, and they get immediate feedback. The tools are not difficult, but they get to solve problems and make something cool.”

“Students looking to get into this career pathway involving technology based problem solving should look at subjects such as science, physics, advanced maths/maths methods… this will help when thinking about the deeper, more complex problems.”

When it comes to robotics in industry – although there are some areas of lower-skilled jobs being replaced by robotics; the knowledge gained by these employees will become an asset when creating the robots. Dr Kee refers to TEi Services’ example of robotic arms used in welding. “Welders provide their years of knowledge and expertise when developing the programming and design of welding robots. By up-skilling these welders, they can move into new areas of industry, therefore creating new roles, more employment opportunities, with higher output of products and services.”

Dr Kee points out the ‘niche’ areas of tertiary education that are now available. “There used to be the go-to Engineering degrees – Civil, Mechanical, Electrical, Chemical. But now there are so many opportunities – we have the more specialised areas such as Bio-Medical Engineering, Mechatronic Engineering, Minerals Processing Engineering, Manufacturing Engineering… there are really specific pathways to go down to skill people up to do specific tasks. There is definitely more opportunity for students to choose an area that they are really passionate about. In saying this, some employers are not looking just at those with degrees. There is also direct employment from school with options such as workplace training, apprenticeships, TAFE, etc.”

Gateway To Industry Program (GISP)

The Cathedral School has been part of the GISP group of schools since the beginning of 2021 allowing us to provide students with these specialised ICT-based workshops. The connection between industry and education is important for the school and future employees, creating new pathways and opportunities, and bringing real-world experience to our students.

The Cathedral School would like to thank the organisations and individuals that made this, and future GISP incursions possible:


Levi Jenkins and the Queensland Manufacturing Institute

Dr Damien Kee

Adam Packer and TEi Services

Jasmine McIntosh and Townsville Manufacturing Hub

The Department of Employment, Small Business, and Training

Ben Dallimore – Head of ICT at The Cathedral School


Levi Jenkins from QLD Manufacturing Hub, and Dr Damien Kee – Independent Technology Education Expert.

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