YOUNG brains will vie with those a little older for the first time at an annual event at Dubbo that aims to inspire the next generation of scientists.
The city's entrepreneurs will put their skills to the test, eager to perform creditably against students from 19 of the region's schools.
The entry of a Dubbo City Council team, led by mayor Mathew Dickerson, and local businesses put the heat into the impending competition.
The fresh aspect of the Western Plains Science and Engineering Challenge will round out the event's more traditional focus of encouraging young people along the career path.
Bridges, catapults and even Mars buggies are not beyond the realms of possibility as products of the three-day event at the Dubbo Turf Club that starts on March 5.
The University of Newcastle outreach program, once again supported by local volunteers, aims to give participants a more realistic view of what a career in technology would involve.
"All activities are designed to show students the practical side of careers in science and engineering," local challenge co-ordinator and Rotarian Geoff Smith said.
The challenge would start in the morning and finish in the afternoon with the "spectacular testing" of the bridges, he said.
The university developed the challenge to change an image of the discipline.
"We need to inspire young people and show them that creativity is an integral part of any career in science and engineering," Dr Terry Burns, the university's challenge director, said.
"Scientists and engineers investigate and solve problems and while theory is a vital part of this work, it is just as important to be innovative and creative."