Warrane College UNSW | college accommodation for students at UNSW
Warrane College UNSW | college accommodation for students at UNSW

Rural Engineering Scholarship winner has had a long journey

Brenden Crago (Pictured)

From modest beginnings on a small fruit farm in rural Queensland, Warrane’s Rural Engineering Scholarship winner for 2013, Brenden Crago, has come a long way.

Brenden began his journey by excelling at science during high school at Mareeba State High in Far North Queensland. He also captained a youth band at school which he says helped him to learn valuable skills in helping to organise other students.

As a result of his academic and extra curricula activities, the local Rotary club chose Brenden from among many students in the district to attend the National Youth Science Forum held in January last year in Canberra.

The main aim of the program is to allow Year 11 students who are considering a career in science, in engineering or in a related discipline to make “more informed choices” for their future careers.

“It was a challenge to get to the forum,” he said. “Many students applied to Rotary and they made up a short list and then conducted interviews. They were particularly interested in finding students who they felt could improve the communication between science and the wider society.

“It was all about communicating how science can be beneficial to others and there was a focus on debating big issues like climate change.”

The forum attracted 450 students from around the country. It included lectures and talks as well as workshops on things like preparing for a job interview, negotiations skills and public speaking.

Brenden was so inspired by the event he decided to apply to attend the London International Youth Science Forum in August 2012. Again he was successful, being among only 10 students chosen to represent Australia.

The London forum brought together about 350 students of the sciences from almost 60 countries. Apart from giving them a deeper insight into science and its applications for the benefit of humanity, it helped to foster greater understanding between young people from around the world.

Students took part in a program of lectures and demonstrations by leading scientists. There were also seminars, debates and discussions on key scientific topics, and visits to industrial sites and research facilities like the National Physical Laboratory, academic institutions in London and at Oxford and Cambridge universities.

After all this preparation, when Brenden came to UNSW he chose a combined degree in Electrical Engineering/Computer Sciences.

“I chose this degree because I enjoy applying scientific skills to things that have wide-ranging applications,” he said.

Brenden says he is pleased that he is still able to find time for his hobbies – playing guitar, cryptography and gaming – and for meeting new people and making friends.

“I really like life in College,” he said. “I particularly like the way you can meet people from all over the country, as well as from all over the world. I find it is really easy to make friends and to get involved in groups.”