techtrails @ 2016 Perth Science Festival

On the glorious winter weekend of 13-14 August WiTWA brought its highly successful techtrails progam to the Perth Science Festival. techtrails is an initiative developed to cater for the growing needs for skilled workers for the STEM sectors. This unique incursion programme addresses in particular the lack of Generations Y and Z studying in this field, leading to a future shortage of suitably skilled individuals available in the Technology and Engineering workforce. It targets primarily public and independent public schools with a particular focus on schools that are regional or remotely located, have strong science and technology focus, or have little or no opportunity to present their students with career choices.

Our participation at Perth Science Festival as one of over 50 interactive stalls, in the Perth Cultural Centre marked a significant but highly successful departure from our usual engagement mechanism with secondary students in a school setting. Our interactive panel of over 25 prominent STEM professionals, across a range of industries demonstrated their work to students, their families and the wider community and highlighted the important role science, technology, engineering, mathematics and innovation play in modern workplaces and future career choices.

We had fabulous interactive sessions including presentations on drone technologies by Chris Leslie of Airscope Industries and Nick Sargeant of Global Unmanned Systems, who had the audience enthralled about the commercial applications of drones, and the possible careers that are opening up in this brand new industry sector. We also had brilliant presentations by Siobhan Stuart, the first female Marine Engineer in the Royal Australian Navy to work on the submarine fleet and her colleague Sean Dowling, who showcased some of the technologies and life support systems available in modern submarines.  

Abbey Potter an entomologist with the Department of Health, brought along a squadron of mosquitoes that the audience could inspect under a microscope drawing a combined sense of fascination and repulsion  from the audience about the environments, physiology and lifecycle of theses pesky  little kritters. Ella Ganfield was a big hit with some of our younger audience members showing off who to do robotics coding, whilst Dr Paola Magni provided some fascinating insights into forensics and crime scene investigations. 

Aggie, the art expert and robot tour guide with the Art Gallery of WA delighted the audience with some cool dance moves whilst the audience was able to interact with our speakers from a range of different disciplines and organisations including Microsoft, Google, Chevron Australia, the Harry Perkins institute, Curtin University, Milne Agri Group, BHP Billiton, Seven West Media and Murdoch University, to name but a few.

techtrails patron and former Chief Scientist of WA, Prof Lyn Beazley said that the program delivered as part of National Science Week, was a resounding success and provided many insights, fun and inspiration to the many people that came to our stall. We had some delicious brownies offered to everyone that came along, kindly made by the home economics students at Ashdale Secondary College with a sensational Nigella Lawson recipe. The whole weekend was captured on video, including speaker interviews and event highlights by the fantastic multimedia students from Ashdale SHS. Keep an eye out on our Techtrails page to view the video!

None of this would have been possible without the generous support of our event sponsors, the Department of Local government and Communities, UWA Faculty of Engineering and Mathematics, Kinetic IT, Scitech, Ashdale Secondary High School as well as our many fantastic presenters and contributors.