In collaboration with Toyota Australia, Ecolinc recently hosted the GEMS 2019 Conference. One hundred and twenty students from twelve schools in the Western Suburbs were invited to participate. Kurunjang SC, Taylors Lakes SC, Keilor Downs SC, Melton SC. Braybrook SC, Buckley Park College, Tarneit P-9 College, Bacchus Marsh College, St. Albans SC, Footscray City College and Werribee SC are in communities impacted by the closure of the Toyota manufacturing plant. An outstanding array of female role models, combined with industry visits made this an engaging, career changing experience for participants.
The two day conference provided opportunities for the students to explore career pathways in STEM through:
- Keynote addresses
- A panel discussion
- Overcoming hurdles small group discussion
- STEM hands-on workshops
- A STEM speed dating activity
- A careers expo
- STEM industry visits
- A new online careers portal
The first keynote, Jessica Vos appeared in real-time via video conference from NASA, USA setting the high standard of presentation that typified the conference over the two days. Jessica has a diverse background in aerospace systems engineering, project management and human performance. Born and raised in the remote state of Alaska, she grew up with an innate appreciation for human survival in extreme environments. Her NASA career began as a cooperative education student (or intern) in the Fall of 1999 at the Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, TX. In this role she quickly became enthralled with the design and development of the unique, complex life support systems that literally enable the “human” aspect of NASA’s space exploration programs.
Delegates were asked in the final survey to indicate if after attending the conference they wished to further investigate a personal STEM career. A strongly positive response of 91.89% indicated they wished to further investigate STEM options. Given this response the conference successfully raised the profile of STEM careers to the delegates and clearly aroused their interest in the STEM industry fields.
Comments from delegates at the conclusion of the conference are reflective of its impact.
- ‘Don’t be afraid to say , “Yes” because it will give you so many more opportunities and it’s not as hard as you think.’
- ‘Stay open minded to other options that may be out of the ordinary because it is okay to change career pathways as long as it makes you happy.’
- ‘There is more than one path to success, and there is more than one way to get to your destination.’
- ‘STEM is not a boy’s game. It is not a girl’s game. It is an everyone game’
- ‘No matter who you are someone will shout you down. The strong ones back up and keep on going.’
- ‘Don’t think, just do. Believe in yourself.’
- ‘Always stay curious and open minded. You’ll never know what you can discover.’