First published 26 November 2021

QUT’s Future You STEM Summit for high-achieving teenagers is hitting the road for its very first visit to Cairns, Bundaberg, Mackay and Toowoomba.

More than 50 local Year 11 and 12 students across the four locations will take part in tailored summits from November 30 to December 3, with a focus on STEM innovation and entrepreneurship.

They'll get to work with visiting QUT researchers and current QUT students on real-world environmental and technology challenges and gain first-hand inspiration for STEM careers.

The popular conference-style summit is held in Brisbane annually for senior school students, and this year expanded to make a successful regional debut in Townsville during the September school holidays.

Program manager Simone Long, from QUT’s Young Accelerators, said it was now spreading its wings further in the name of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

“We’re bringing the Future You STEM Summit to Cairns, Bundaberg, Mackay and Toowoomba to make it easier for local teenagers to meet our QUT researchers and students in person and be inspired about careers in STEM,” she said.

“Our free, four-day program has a focus on innovation, entrepreneurship, and creativity.

“The team challenge projects are tailored to each city and relate to ocean pollution, agricultural waste, water resources – and even how technology can be used to create more fun for 18-to-25-year-olds in regional towns.

“The students who will take part are smart, motivated and already have an interest in STEM. We aim to give them a taste of STEM technical skills and professional skills that will amplify their job prospects in the future.”

Each summit will include virtual sessions with guest speakers such as the Chief Scientist of Australia, Dr Cathy Foley, and in-person industry guest speed networking featuring local business and community leaders.

All summit students will join the 1000-strong cohort of graduates from previous STEM camps, with most of these students going on to further STEM study at university.

QUT’s Young Accelerators Program will deliver the Future You STEM Summits with support from QUT Entrepreneurship and Explore Your Future (Widening Participation).

Young Accelerators is an initiative funded by the QUT Vice-Chancellor and delivers high school engagement activities including free on-campus workshops, events, and professional learning across STEM disciplines to help schools understand the importance of STEM skills and the broad range of future study and career opportunities STEM offers.




Number of students:
Schools represented: St Andrew's Catholic College, St Mary's Catholic College, Babinda State School, St Monica's College Cairns, St Mary's Catholic College Woree, Cairns State High School, Trinity Bay State High School
Venue: Innovate Incubator Hub
Challenge: Clean water for reefs – Develop an AI-based conservation strategy and innovation to reduce land-based sources of pollution that degrade coastal waters and coral reefs that live in them.
QUT academic mentor: Professor Matthew Dunbabin, robotics engineer & reef researcher
QUT student ambassadors: Jarod Lam, Bachelor of Engineering (Mechatronics) and Coby Lee Davis, Bachelor of Creative Industries/Bachelor of Business (Media & Comm/Management)


MACKAY (includes Rockhampton students)

Number of students:
Schools represented: Moranbah State High School, Holy Spirit College, Mackay North State High School, St Patrick's College Mackay, St Brendans College Yeppoon, Dysart State High School, Heights College, Whitsunday Anglican School, Holy Spirit College Mackay, Mackay Northern Beaches State High School
Venue: Split Spaces
Challenge: Reducing waste and by-products in sugar production – Develop an alternative use for sugarcane and its by-products (this could range from apparel to bioenergy)
QUT academic mentor: Dr Jo Blinco, biochemist & manager of QUT's Mackay Biorefining Research Facility (pictured above)
QUT student ambassadors: Krishore Subramaniam (pictured at top), Bachelor of Engineering (Mechatronics) and Jordan Walker, Bachelor of Engineering (Mechatronics)


BUNDABERG (includes Gympie students)

Number of students:
Schools represented: St Luke's Anglican School, Bundaberg State High School, Gympie State High School
Venue: The Generator
Challenge: Sustainable technologies for water treatment – Using a ‘circular economy’ model, develop an innovation that makes waste management more sustainable for water treatment.
QUT academic mentor: Dr Rachel Pepper, chemical process engineer
QUT student ambassadors: Lauren Drabwell, Bachelor of Engineering (Medical Engineering)/Bachelor of Science (Physics) and Sara Abbey, Bachelor of Science (Environmental and Earth Studies)



Number of students:
Schools represented:  Scots PGC College, The Glennie School, Highfields State Secondary College, Centenary Heights State High School, Toowoomba Christian College, Roma State College, St Joseph's College Toowoomba, Warwick State High School, Cavendish Road State High School, Toowoomba Anglican School, Fairholme College
Venue: Canvas Coworking
Challenge: Smart and liveable cities – Using data or digital technologies, develop a solution to elevate life in Toowoomba for the 18-25 demographic.
QUT academic mentor: Mellini Sloan (pictured above), urban & regional planner
QUT student ambassadors: Jessica Carlile, Bachelor of Creative Industries (Entrepreneurship & Fashion), Beverley Gorry, Bachelor of Engineering (Mechatronics)/Bachelor of IT(Computer Science) and Sarah Eisenmenger, Bachelor of Business (Management)/Bachelor of Engineering (Mechatronics)


QUT Media contacts:
- Mechelle McMahon,
- Rod Chester, or 0407 585 901 (including after hours)