An update from the CEO

We are certainly approaching a busy time of year for the NYSF – heading into our 35th year celebrations in 2018.

Our planning for the NYSF Year 12 program is ahead of schedule. We are expecting nearly 600 young people from across Australia in January, within our Canberra and Brisbane sessions. It has been very exciting to be able to scale this program with the support of our Brisbane host, the University of Queensland. We are also thrilled to be introducing some new activities into the program this year. Participants will have the opportunity to choose activities outside of their interest groups and attend a new STEM + day. The STEM + activity encourages students to explore combined STEM related disciplines such as ‘science and law’, ‘science and linguistics’, ‘science and arts’ and ‘science and business’ – to name a few.

I am excited to advise that the NYSF’s National Science Teachers Summer School in Brisbane is now full, and the Canberra program is not far behind with limited places remaining for those still wanting to attend. I believe this validates our approach to teacher professional development. In contrast to some other teachers’ programs, NYSF’s program doesn’t focus on “telling teachers how to teach better”. Our focus is on developing a community of practice amongst our participants, who come from schools and school systems across Australia, about learning across the STEM disciplines through reinvigorating the passions of the teachers – their passions for science engineering, technology, mathematics – along with the passion and potential of their students.

At the time of writing, we have two new confirmed funding partners for the 2018 programs that I am very pleased to welcome on board – Macquarie University and Defence Force Recruiting. Expanding the number and range of organisations willing to support the NYSF’s activities allows us to continue to expand the opportunities for our young participants to make informed choices about their futures.

The NYSF recently accepted an opportunity to speak at a summit about future proofing STEM industries, specifically about the importance of partnerships that yield opportunity for Australia’s young scientists. The NYSF was asked to be involved due to our track record of collaborating with industry, universities and research organisations to provide tangible learning experiences and inspiring leaders and entrepreneurs to determine and invent their futures. Further to this, the NYSF has also been involved in consultations with regard to the Science in Society initiative currently being developed by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science. Another engagement opportunity has included the industry skilling strategy of the Department of Defence.

I would like to take this opportunity, as the end of the year approaches, to thank my Board which is very capably lead by Mr Andrew Metcalfe AO. I have very much enjoyed working with such a professional and committed group of individuals with incredibly diverse careers and achievements. Additionally, an even bigger thankyou to the NYSF’s corporate staff who diligently work behind the scenes to facilitate our suite of outreach programs. Without these people, our funders, and Rotary friends, the amazing work that we do here at the NYSF would not be possible.

No matter how or why you celebrate the forthcoming festive season – of Christmas, Ashura, Yom Kippur, Bodhi or Hanukkah – on behalf of all of us here at the NYSF, we hope you enjoy the time with your family and friends and remain safe.

From the CEO

Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel, launched Australia’s STEM Workforce report in March that provides an up-to-date detailed analysis of the status of Australia’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) trained workforce. The report addresses demographics and the types of occupations and industries graduates and PhDs move in to and the income they may earn.

This report is a great resource for students, and those who support students such as parents, teachers and career advisors, to inform about study and career decision-making within STEM.

A warm welcome to our new Rotary District Chairs (and sincere thanks to those who are continuing) who are now mid-way through the application and selection processes for the NYSF 2017 January Sessions. Expressions of Interest opened on 1 March for students to attend the National Youth Science Forum 2017 and applications have been steadily coming through. I strongly encourage potential applicants to not leave submitting their EoI until the last minute as there are several key steps in the process, which include talking to a local Rotary club about endorsing your application. Expressions of Interest close at midnight AEST on 31 May.

Congratulations to the 37 students from our 2016 and 2015 cohorts who have been selected to attend our 2016 International Programs. Once again the standard of applications was high, making the selection a challenge. Students will be heading off to London, Montreal, Singapore, Boston, Gottingen and Heidelberg. Our International Programs are invaluable to students with an interest in building overseas networks for future study and career opportunities.

Our Next Step programs have commenced with Brisbane and Canberra being a huge success. Thank you to our partner universities and organisations for hosting students. I must also thank student staff members Harley Gray for his help in Brisbane and Lucas Logan for his assistance with the Canberra program. Applications for our Melbourne and Sydney programs will be open soon.

Our participation in the PwC 21C Minds Accelerator Program has resulted in significant opportunities to develop our strategic direction as well as to learn more about some of the organisations also working in the STEM outreach space in Australia and explore potential for collaboration and expansion. In February, Dr Tony Wagner from Harvard University’s Innovation Lab, spent time with the 21CMinds participants and shared valuable insights and critiqued some of the thinking around the developing programs. This activity will continue to provide benefit to the NYSF as the year progresses, and we are extremely proud of our involvement. I also wish to acknowledge the NYSF’s Manager of External Relations, Amanda Caldwell’s contribution to this initiative.

I was privileged to attend the 100-year anniversary celebrations of long-term NYSF funding partner, CSL Ltd this month. This iconic Australian company has a proud history of pharmaceutical and health product development in Australia, including the manufacture of vaccines, insulin and anti-venoms. Six of our alumni are featured in this inspiring video released in conjunction with the celebrations – thanks Tayla, Meg, Kushani, Michael, Lachlan, and Charlie for agreeing to be involved. We are proud of all of our alumni, and thank you for representing them.