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Branyon's Asian immersion enables a focus on mechatronics and robotics

Branyon's Asian immersion enables a focus on mechatronics and robotics

Published:01 December 2017

CQUni Mechatronics student Branyon Apel recently received a 2018 New Colombo Plan Scholarship from Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop. MIDDLE: He's congratulated by Minister Bishop and CQUniversity Associate Professor Rajesh Sarin.

After making a name for himself in Australian innovation competitions, CQUniversity Mechatronics student Brayon Apel is looking forward to a year of study and internship opportunities in Asia in 2018.

He can do so thanks to a generous New Colombo Plan scholarship valued over $50,000 and announced recently by the Federal Government.

Branyon will be one of 120 scholars from 33 Australian universities to study, work and live in the Indo-Pacific region.

His first stop will be the prestigious National University of Singapore, where his study programs will encompass computer vision and robotics.

Branyon will then stay in the Asia-Pacific region for a month of intensive Mandarin language study, before seeking out an internship with a robotics and mechatronics focused company.

Mechatronics, which covers robots and other smart machines, is the focus of Branyon’s Co-op Engineering degree based at CQUni Bundaberg.

“The New Colombo Plan scholarship is designed to enable Australian students to immerse themselves in how things are done in Asia before returning to contribute their knowledge and skills in Australia,” Branyon says.

In May this year, Branyon teamed up with another CQUni student, Polani Shadur, to win $10 000 with their prototype of a Flexible Fertigation Pump System for orchards and farms, as part of the Telstra Innovation Challenge 2017.

More than 50 university teams from across Australia entered the Telstra challenge, with only three teams making the final.

The CQUni entrants were flown to Melbourne to pitch their pump system which allows bespoke levels of nutrients and chemicals to be applied to specific parts of an orchard or farm to suit soil types, conditions and plant varieties.

The prototype system drew on a supplied competition kit including a microprocessor, a cellular shield, sensors, switches and LEDs.

Mr Apel says he was attracted to help with the hardware and software for the pump system due to his background growing up on a grazing property.

In October this year, Branyon was team leader for a group of second-year CQUniversity Bundaberg Engineering students who had their skills put to the test at the Warman Design & Build Competition, conducted in Sydney by Engineers Australia.

The competition involved designing and building a robot to do a prescribed action. Overall, CQUni placed 13th out of 18 university teams and also received a Judges’ Special Mention.

"Doing this Warman project and participating this event was an extremely rich learning experience and provided an opportunity to mingle with top mechanical and mechatronics students from other universities,” Branyon says.

"The Engineering courses and the content I've been exposed to at CQUniversity really helped me to ascertain the important aspects the judges were looking for, giving me the skills to get my point across quickly and accurately."