Laying Strong Foundations for Indigenous STEM Education and Careers

Supporting the young leaders of tomorrow in STEM education and careers, particularly those from Indigenous backgrounds, helps public and private sector participants in industry lay strong foundations in designing integrated, inclusive and diverse communities and workforces of the future.

During this winter school holidays an action-packed camp inspiring up to 30 teenagers – from Brisbane to Katherine to Cairns – to take up university study and pursue STEM careers took place in Brisbane.

 

Established in partnership by WSP Australia (WSP) and Queensland University of Technology Oodgeroo Unit (QUT) the Science and Infrastructure Development (SID) School is reconciliation in action and focuses on closing the gap in education outcomes for Indigenous Australians. This free experiential-focused five-day residential program is in response to the gap in enrolments in tertiary STEM education between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian students and in school attendance, literacy and Year 12 completion at school. Last year, the SID School was recognised with a national award – Consult Australia’s Gold Award for Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility.

 

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Professor Anita Lee Hong, QUT’s Director of Indigenous Industry and Community Partnerships says, “The SID School is a long-term partnership between QUT and WSP, we’ve seen the program grow over the past seven years and is always well supported by Brisbane’s corporate community.” This year both Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) and Lendlease have come on board and joined the Queensland Department of Main Roads as gold sponsors.

 

“We aim to give the students as much real-world experience as possible and get them out to workplaces where they can see STEM careers in action and talk to people working in science, technology, engineering and maths,” she adds.

 

This year, the students visited the Gallipoli Barracks at Enoggera as well as seeing engineering careers in action at WSP’s Brisbane head office. They learnt about multidisciplinary science and engineering careers including fire engineering and tried a virtual reality driving simulator that is used for designing transport projects. They visited Lendlease’s new Brisbane head office and toured the new King Street precinct which provided an insight into property development. Students also got behind the scenes access to Brisbane Airport to see how a busy international airport operates and see exciting new projects underway including Brisbane’s new runway, currently Queensland’s largest aviation infrastructure project, and the world-leading BNE Auto Mall.

 

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WSP’s Regional Director for Queensland and QUT Alumni, Gerard Ryan says, “The partnership of business with universities is important in laying strong foundations and career pathways for aspiring students with an interest in the STEM areas.

 

“During the SID School, students were exposed to positive role models and learnt about what it is like to work for a global firm like WSP and opportunities to pursue a career in the built environment and infrastructure industry in shaping future thriving communities. They were able to talk to people that work in these exciting industries and gain confidence in what a STEM career can provide,” he said.

 

This program has enabled increased cultural awareness and a greater appreciation of how organisations can contribute to Indigenous community engagement while addressing the gap in Indigenous educational outcomes for our thriving future communities. It builds relationships between undergraduate students, staff of the QUT Oodgeroo Unit and WSP as well as our partnering sponsors including the Queensland Government through the Department of Transport and Main Roads, Department of Defence through the Australian Army and the Royal Australian Air Force, Lendlease, Brisbane Airport Corporation, Commonwealth Bank, Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy and CareerTrackers.

 

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