The Faculty of
Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology

16 July 2018

UQ student Zachary Sizer

Now a High Distinction student enrolled in the Bachelors of Engineering (Honours) / Mathematics at UQ, Sizer is reaping the rewards of a rural upbringing that forced him to ‘think outside the square’.

Not that he had a choice.

“I grew up on a 7000-hectare cattle farm in South West Queensland, 90 kilometres from the nearest town of St George, and more than seven hours drive from Brisbane,” he said.

"Home to the immediate family, a few hundred Belmont Red [cattle] breeders, plus some lambs and dogs, we were quite isolated.

“We had to work with what we had and use our ingenuity to solve everyday problems – we couldn’t just wander down to the local hardware store for supplies whenever we needed them; we only visited town once a fortnight.

“I still remember my grandfather making an arc welder with a generator from a WWII plane because that’s all he had available at the time!”

Nor were Sizer and his parents strangers to creative solutions.

“My dad and I have 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 metal beams – that was a huge job,” he said.

But it was all good experience for life off the farm. As one of only 13 students at Begonia State School (12 kilometres from home), Sizer did well in his studies, winning a scholarship to attend boarding school at Concordia Lutheran College in Toowoomba for his high school years.

With the help of an encouraging maths teacher, and exposure to the school’s new cutting-edge 3D printer, Sizer flourished academically while exploring his love of mathematics.

“I loved that 3D printer,” he said.

“Actually seeing maths come to life, turning around an object in your hand was so interesting. Some of my favourite objects to print were elliptical gears and a Klein bottle – I still have them at home.”

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