Discovering the possibilities
Creating tomorrow's technology leaders
In the central western NSW town of Ivanhoe, population around 200 – where Macquarie University’s Vice-Chancellor Professor S Bruce Dowton was born – he personally took part in two days of robotics workshops. This was among the many held annually in schools across Australia for Macquarie's FIRST Program, introducing children to the opportunities of studies and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics or STEM.
Kindergarten students worked on LEGO creations while older students developed Ivan the Robot to take on challenges in the national FIRST competition for high schoolers. This is growing amazingly – last year 36 teams entered robots they’d made, and this year it was a record 53. “It’s quite remarkable and very inspirational to see happen,” says Professor Dowton. “We see transformation of students’ lives … Watching these people begin as shy and unsure, and grow in confidence and enthusiasm through their curiosity was a sheer delight, and really highlighted for me the power of education.”
Tomorrow will be fuelled by ideas from our youngest minds.
In Australia, tertiary enrolments of young people in STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – continue to fall. This worsens the skills shortage holding back our economy and jeopardises the world-changing contribution that might be theirs in the future.