Teacher is out of this world
BUNDABERG State High School has been pushing innovative education for many years and the key to their technological success can be pin-pointed to one teacher in particular.
Keith Holledge is the head of department for industrial technologies and design and has been teaching at Bundy High for 25 years.
The passionate educator and former woodworker has been involved with STEM programs since 1990, started the CO2 dragster cars 35 years ago and secured a $330,000 grant to supply a state-of-the-art computer aided design facility in 2004.
Mr Holledge has gone above and beyond for not only the school, but for each student that has shown dedication to their education.
"I can produce carpenters and I can produce joiners, but what's going to happen to those jobs in 15 years?" he said.
"I have a vested interest in the students.
" One day they'll be making me a 3D printed hip using the latest lightweight materials that might even be done by non-invasive surgery.
"Their dreams will become our reality. Our kids are the ones who will be fixing all our problems."
The 63-year-old became involved with the Australian Space Design challenge 14 years ago, and while he has a vast array of stories to tell, most of them revolve around his students.
"I never thought I would take to this," he said.
"But I get a buzz out of it. If you don't enjoy coming to school, and if you don't enjoy what you're doing, then go and do something else with your time."
With three students recently returning from Cape Canaveral with an international aerospace title under their belts, the NASA Australian finalists said the teacher had gone above and beyond for them.
"We definitely wouldn't have had this opportunity without Mr Holledge," Alex Buckholz said.
Bundaberg State High School principal Karen McCord said support from sponsors and the community had played a pivotal role in the NASA opportunity, but does not overlook Mr Holledge's importance.
"He's due to retire soon, and to fill the void left by Keith, I'm not sure what we're going to do," Ms McCord said.
"He's so special. It's his school, and they're his kids."