Bush ingenuity inspiration for student off the farm

25 Sep 2017

This article first appeared in the Engineering and Technology Alumni Newsletter, September 2017.

Zachary Sizer grew up on a remote cattle farm in South West Queensland. 80 kilometres from the closest town and more than seven hours from Brisbane, he watched his parents find creative solutions to the everyday problems that couldn’t be solved by popping down to the local hardware store.

7000 hectares of red dirt and thick scrub, ‘Strathleigh’ was home to ‘a few hundred breeders’, Zachary explained, mostly Belmont Red cattle, some lambs, dogs and one happy Sizer family.

The third generation of his family to work with stock and run farms, it’s little wonder Zachary picked up a few ‘bush tricks’ along the way.

“You have to work with what you have out there and use a bit of ingenuity,” he said.

“My grandfather made an arc welder with a generator from a World War II plane – it’s just what he had on hand!

“My dad and I have also worked on a long list of engineering projects over the years, including installing tanks and troughs for the animals; making a cattle crate for our truck so we could transport the stock, and modernising and extending a big shed for the tractors, which involved changing out the deteriorating timber structure for stronger metals beams – that was a huge job.”

Zachary was a good student at Begonia State School, where he was one of only 13 students, before starting boarding school at Concordia Lutheran College in Toowoomba for his high school years.

Here he worked hard and combined with his clear natural abilities, he flourished.

With the help of an encouraging maths teacher and the school’s new cutting-edge 3D printer he got to explore his love of mathematics.

Zachary would spend extra time after class dreaming of his next creation, running the numbers and seeing the theory come to life.

“It’s one thing to put pen to paper, but to actually see the maths come to life - to turn it around in your hand - makes it so much more interesting, and that’s where the engineering comes in, too,” he said.

“Some of my favourite things I printed were elliptical gears and a Klein Bottle – I still have them.”

After completing high school, Zachary was awarded a UQ Aspire Scholarship, which propelled him on the journey to study a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical and Aerospace) and Maths at The University of Queensland.

“What I love about engineering is that there is always an answer to a problem and I enjoy learning about how things work,” Zachary said.

“I am really glad I chose to study engineering at UQ, I’m really enjoying it.

“I have made lots of friends at Union College where I live and I feel really at home in Brisbane.

“Being awarded the UQ Aspire Scholarship has really helped, too.

“The scholarship has taken the pressure off financially and has enabled me to focus entirely on my studies.

“It has helped me to achieve scores of seven (high distinction) for each of my subjects so far, and I plan to continue to achieve high grades with the support I’ve been given.

“I would like to thank the donors to this scholarship for this amazing opportunity - I am very thankful for their support,” Zachary said.

As Zac continues on his journey at UQ, he envisions a future in aeronautical engineering and there is no doubt his passion, and intellect will make him soar in his career!

If you would like to find out more about how you can support UQ students and make a difference please contact us at advancement@eait.uq.edu.au