Banksia Gardens has been collaborating on projects with Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), a university in Massachussetts USA, since 2010. Banksia Gardens became the local coordinating agency for WPI’s Melbourne Project Center in 2016. WPI has been operating in Melbourne for almost 25 years.
Renowned internationally for their project-based learning and study-abroad program, WPI developed a philosophy in the 1970s to broaden the skills and outlook of their STEM-focused students. In short, the university set about helping their very technical graduates to be able to understand ’problems’ in their social context and learn to develop solutions that met human needs, not just technical ones.
Banksia Gardens Community Services worked with its first team of WPI students in January 2010 on a project entitled “Community Environmental Empowerment”. In the 10 years since then, we have had 11 subsequent teams come to do projects at BGCS supporting science and technology education, and to do a huge amount of work on our award-winning Good People Act Now (GPAN) and Aiming High VCE Support programs.
With such an established and fruitful relationship, BGCS became the local coordinating agency to support WPI’s Melbourne Project Center in 2016. As part of this role, we help secure 12 projects a year with organisations such as Museums Victoria, Metropolitan Fire Brigade, Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience, CERES, Brotherhood of St Laurence, and Port Phillip Ecocentre.
Short video overview of BGCS induction platform developed in conjunction with a WPI team in 2021.