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STEM careers take off at Indigenous winter school

24th June 2019

An action-packed camp at QUT these winter school holidays is set to inspire 30 teenagers – from Brisbane to Katherine to Cairns – to take up STEM careers and university study.

The Indigenous Australian Science and Infrastructure Development (SID) School program will see the Year 10, 11 and 12 students get a VIP tour of the Brisbane Airport, explore the Gallipoli Army Barracks, check out trains, helicopters and planes, and get a taste of the corporate world in the city.

They’ll even get to see an AFP sniffer dog demonstration at the airport and meet some koalas at Lone Pine Sanctuary.

The SID School aims to demystify university through a free five-day residential camp (July 1-5) for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander high schoolers.

QUT and engineering firm WSP Australia established the school in 2012 to help address the under representation of Indigenous Australians in STEM industries. Last year, it was recognised with a national award – Consult Australia’s Gold Award for Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility.


Run by QUT’s Oodgeroo Unit (the uni’s Indigenous support unit) and WSP, the event is based in Brisbane at QUT’s $230 million Science and Engineering Centre, which includes The Cube – Australia’s largest interactive and learning display centre for STEM.

SID School director Professor Anita Lee Hong said it focused on employment pathways related to science and infrastructure development and featured site visits showcasing real jobs as well as lots of hands-on learning activities at QUT.

“We aim to give the students as much real-world experience as possible and get them out to workplaces where they can see STEM careers in action and talk to people working in science, technology, engineering and maths.

Professor Anita Lee Hong.

“The SID School is always well supported by Brisbane’s corporate community and this year Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) and Lendlease have come on board and joined the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads as gold sponsors,” she said.

“This year the students will also visit the Gallipoli Barracks at Enoggera and see engineering careers in action at WSP's Brisbane head office, where they’ll get to learn about science and engineering and try a virtual reality driving simulator that is used for designing transport projects.

“They’ll also visit Lendlease’s new Brisbane head office in Fortitude Valley and tour their new King Street precinct to get an insight into property development.”

WSP’s Regional Director for Queensland Gerard Ryan, who is also a QUT alumnus, said the partnership of business with universities was important in laying strong foundations and career pathways for aspiring students with an interest in the STEM areas.

"During the SID School, students will be exposed to positive role models and learn about what it is like to work for a global firm like WSP and opportunities to pursue a career in the built environment and infrastructure industry in shaping future thriving communities," he said.

"They will be able to talk to people that work in these exciting industries and gain confidence in what a STEM career can provide."

Brisbane Airport Corporation’s Partnership and Events Manager, Jacinta Messer, said the airport visit aimed to get the students excited about the aviation industry.

“Students will get VIP access to Brisbane Airport to see first-hand how a busy international airport operates,” she said.

“They will see exciting new projects underway including Brisbane’s new runway, currently Queensland’s largest aviation infrastructure project, and the world-leading BNE Auto Mall.

“The BAC team will be on hand to share their personal experience about working in the industry and at Brisbane Airport, and reveal some interesting and little known facts about the airport which is home to 28 European bee hives and the largest single site rooftop solar panel system in Australia (which covers 36,000 square metres – twice the area of the Melbourne Cricket Ground).


“Brisbane Airport is the working location for more than 24,000 people who are employed in a diverse range of industries offering services such as freight and aircraft handling, warehousing, transport and communications, manufacturing, research, property and infrastructure development, education and training, recreation, tourism, accommodation, leisure and retail, across more than 425 businesses on site.

“A career in aviation is an exciting opportunity and we aim to capture the hearts and minds of this year's students to encourage them to consider a future career in this industry.”

The SID School class of 2018.


SID School’s 2019 partners include the Department of Transport and Main Roads (Queensland Government), BAC, Lendlease, the Australian Army, QMEA Resources Skills Academic and the CareerTrackers Indigenous Internship Program.

Students attending this year’s camp come from schools in Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Toowoomba, Katherine, Rockhampton, Townsville, Cairns, Torres Strait Islands, Maryborough, Yarrabah, Blackwater and Port Macquarie.

QUT Media contacts:
- Mechelle McMahon,
media@qut.edu.au
- Rose Trapnell, media@qut.edu.au or 0407 585 901 (including after hours)

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