Student Anna Parker is tutored in maths by USQ lecturer John Murray.
Student Anna Parker is tutored in maths by USQ lecturer John Murray. Alistair Brightman

Do you like maths? Be an engineer

AUSTRALIA is running out of engineers and may have to recruit from the United Kingdom and India, according to 70-year-old mathematics whiz John Murray.

The USQ Fraser Coast lecturer says Australia desperately needs its high school students to go into areas such as engineering because those skills are being lost.

Mr Murray has an engineering and physics background and says the problem maths and science faculties are facing is down to a wider variety of school subjects.

“I imagine what is happening is students have more options like dance and they tend to go for the easy options rather than the harder subjects like maths and physics.”

The decline is most likely the motivation behind Mr Murray’s passion for teaching maths.

It is that passion he is trying to spread among 40 Year 11 and 12 students this week before they head back to school.

Mr Murray is running four intensive workshops at USQ for three hours each morning for students who need to get up to speed in maths.

Anna Parker, 15, is one of those students who has volunteered her last week of summer holidays to study.

Mathematics is not her best subject at school; she prefers humanities.

But after spending 10 months in Japan on exchange she wants to feel more confident going into Year 11 at St Mary’s College.

The student says 2009 was the best year in her life so far but there were a few obstacles when it came to her being taught maths in Japanese.

“It was pretty tricky,” she said. “They have different teaching methods like the children aren’t as interactive with their teachers and not as confident. They don’t put their hand up in class but instead call the teacher over.”

While Anna touches up on her maths her family, from Maryborough, is taking advantage of the situation and holidaying in Hervey Bay; no doubt a bargaining chip for Anna.

The Success in Maths B classes have been running at USQ for about eight years; they will wrap up tomorrow.



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