Inspiring future problem-solvers

“Science and Technology are so much a part of our lives. In the same way that you need appreciation of the Arts, you need to have an appreciation of Science and how things work,” says Chaitanya Rao (OM 1994).

Chaitanya Rao understands that igniting a passion for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) and equipping students with problem-solving skills are critical to overcoming the complex and rapidly changing challenges of our global society. From working with natural resources companies to sporting clubs and the education sector, Chaitanya uses mathematical models to help describe and solve real world problems.

“The beauty about knowing the fundamentals is that you can apply them to so many things. For most problems, it is basically about applying a curve through a series of points,” says Chaitanya.

Since leaving School more than 20 years ago, Chaitanya has obtained a Bachelor Degree (Hons) in Mathematics and Electrical Engineering from Melbourne University, and completed a PhD in Wireless Communications Theory at Caltech in the United States. However, it is his time as a student at Melbourne Grammar School that he attributes to providing him with the solid foundation and direction needed to succeed in life.

In Year 12, Chaitanya was one of six students selected to represent Australia in the Maths Olympiad, an internationally acclaimed Mathematics competition. This experience taught Chaitanya how to apply logical thinking through a sequence of steps to solve problems.

“School gave me an appreciation for how things work around me. A lot of mysteries were solved for me there,” says Chaitanya. “I have the teachers at Melbourne Grammar School to thank for that - they were very good at taking me beyond the classroom curriculum.”

As well as helping him develop and refine his problem-solving skills, Chaitanya gained an understanding of potential university courses and career paths from mentors in the Maths Olympiad programme – Old Melburnians from the years above him.

It is hard to believe that in 1994 – the same year that Chaitanya finished School – IBM released the world’s first smartphone, and that the Internet was still in its infancy.

While Chaitanya’s story reminds us of the School’s strong history of educational excellence, it is critical that we develop new strategies to ensure every student has the fundamental skills required to enter the modern-day workforce and navigate their personal lives.

“Especially in the technological age, students need to be able to learn to assess the information and to come to a logical conclusion for themselves,” says Chaitanya. “Students need an idea of what is out there for them.”

To help address the challenges of the rapidly changing world, Melbourne Grammar School plans to build a new state-of-the-art Science and Technology Hub centred on an integrated and innovative pedagogical approach.