By Jarrod McKenna
In October 2022 In2science delivered an engaging forum for STEM teachers, industry professionals, and In2science mentors. In partnership with Engineers Australia (EA) and hosted by In2science Chair The Honourable Prof John Brumby AO, the forum highlighted the current challenges of teaching translatable and useful STEM skills and knowledge to Australia’s high school students. We were honoured to have Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Cathy Foley AO deliver an inspiring keynote speech. Dr Foley then joined fellow STEM professionals EA General Manager Alesha Printz, CEO and Founder of Indigital Mikaela Jade, Education Program Manager at Rail Projects Victoria (RPV) Cherida Longley, and Head of Programs at Bendigo Tech School Ember Chittenden for an engaging and enlightening panel discussion.
The panel noted how desperately short Australia is of engineers, and workshopped ways in which we can engage more people (women and girls, in particular) with engineering careers and study options. Alesha echoed Dr Foley’s call for greater investment in and support of women and girls in STEM, and shared EA’s TV advert emphasising the enormous variety of engineering jobs and their impact across several different industries. Cherida also highlighted the incredible success that RPV have had using Minecraft to reach the younger generations and show them in an engaging, exciting way how the Metro Tunnel projects are designed, managed, and operated – it’s about finding what grabs the attention and interest of the younger generations and using that to connect them with real-world engineering.
The discussion ended by calling for greater support of engineering and to change the perception of ‘what an engineer does or looks like’ (not all of them wear hi-vis and a hard hat!). Finding new ways to approach STEM education like designing programs to look through an Indigenous lens, engaging with local tech schools and industry professionals, or even incorporating software like Minecraft into your outreach programs are all ways we are working to fill the hundreds of thousands of engineering jobs required by 2025 and to close the digital divide between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.
In2science would like to thank EA for hosting the event, and all the speakers and panellists for sharing their thoughts, expertise, and words of advice for teachers and industry professionals to help better connect classrooms with real-world STEM.