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Northern Territory STEM education program recognised with award

A Northern Territory-based science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) program, the sySTEMic Collaboration, has been recognised at the national level after taking out the award for Best STEM Program at the 2019 Australian Education Awards.

The sySTEMic Collaboration, created in response to the Engineers Make Things Happen Report of 2017, is an initiative that seeks to establish unique partnerships between industry, schools and tertiary education providers in order to engage students in the pipeline of engineering careers.

Engineers Australia Northern General Manager, Keely Quinn, said the program is a productive first step in growing the next generation of STEM professionals.

“The Northern Territory faces unique challenges and opportunities that engineering can solve in new and innovative ways, however, we need more students to understand the importance of STEM subjects and how they can be applied in real-life problem solving,” said Quinn.

“Collaboration between Industry and education allows students to experience the applications of engineering in the workforce, encouraging them to undertake STEM subjects and look towards a future of leading innovation and change in Australia.”

Facilitated by Engineers Australia Northern and supported by the NT Government and local industry, the program’s pilot year in 2018 saw students of Humpty Doo’s Taminmin College receive hands-on industry experience in a curriculum that featured two immersive site visits, a problem-solving day, and excursions to a mine site, a defence barracks and a university campus.

Taminmin College’s Assistant Principal, Catherine Scott-Jones has endorsed the program and the positive impact it has had in attracting Territorian students into STEM professions.

“The sySTEMic Collaboration has made a considerable impact on students’ belief that they can achieve and pursue STEM-related occupations,” said Scott-Jones. “Student enrolments in high-end Science and Maths subjects doubled in Semester 1, 2019 for Year 11 and there was a significant increase in the uptake of these subjects in Year 12.

“The program has contributed to the work we have been doing to develop a STEM culture at Taminmin College and the 2019 sySTEMic Collaboration participants have inspired younger students to embrace STEM learning.

“We are privileged to have been the pilot school and to see the impact on not only individual students, but the whole school as a result of our development and participation in the program.”

Following the success of the Darwin-based program, the 2019 instalment will see an expansion into Alice Springs.

According to Engineers Australia Northern Business Development Manager, Jen Mahony, the success of the program relies heavily on the contribution of local industry to help mentor, develop and inspire the next generation of engineering talent.

“Without the input of dedicated local professionals, the sySTEMic Collaboration wouldn’t have been possible,” said Mahony. “Thanks must go to all of the mentors, individuals and businesses who donated their time and resources to help deliver this program.”

The sySTEMic Collaboration (Taminmin College) was one of ten finalists in this year’s Best STEM Program category of the Australian Education Awards, topping the likes of Callaghan College, Cessnock Academy of STEM Excellence, Ipswich State High School, Marsden SHS, St Clare’s College Waverley, St Paul’s Anglican Grammar School (Warragul Junior School), Strathcona Baptist Girls Grammar, Thuringowa State High School (Global Tropics Future Project) and Valentine Public School).

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