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Western Australia launches first state-wide STEM skills strategy

Curtin University has welcomed Western Australia’s first State-wide STEM skills strategy, which aims to ensure the next generation is equipped to participate in the future workforce.

According to a recent press release, the Minister for Science, Innovation and ICT, the Hon Dave Kelly MLA, launched the new State Government strategy titled ‘Future Jobs, Future Skills: Driving STEM Skills in WA’.

STEM skills strategy

The University was represented on the STEM Advisory Panel, which helped guide the direction of the STEM skills strategy, through Professor Jo Ward, the Academic Lead for the University’s Athena SWAN program.

The new strategy aims to ensure the current and future workforce is adequately trained to participate in a STEM future.

The University is committed to developing industry-ready graduates who are equipped with the skills to drive WA’s technological future.

This strategy creates an important framework to guide the workforce of the future.

There has never been a more important time to promote the role of STEM to the next generation as society and economy increasingly relies on technology.

A particular focus is on encouraging female students to consider a career in the traditionally male-dominated sector.

Research on STEM-based industries in WA

Curtin University’s Future of Work Institute has been awarded AU$ 150,000 from the State Government through the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation to carry out research with a particular focus on STEM-based industries in WA.

The research program, called ‘Public Policy in the Digital Age’, aims to ensure WA remains competitive and generates high-value and high-wage jobs.

There are five pillars of the new State-wide STEM skills strategy. These are:

  1. Skills for future jobs
  2. STEM culture
  3. School leadership and teacher excellence
  4. Diversity in STEM
  5. Training and reskilling for jobs

Studying the universe from the seafloor

In other news, researchers from the University are part of an international project that will use a huge underwater neutrino telescope at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea.

This project will help explain some of the most powerful and mysterious events in the universe.

Located at two sites at depths of up to 3500m, the KM3NeT telescope will occupy more than a cubic kilometre of water.

It will comprise of hundreds of vertical detection lines anchored to the seabed and held in place by buoys when complete.

How it works

A huge volume of water was required to surround the instruments because neutrinos were otherwise difficult to detect. Neutrinos very rarely interact.

However, when a neutrino hits water it generates light, which the KM3NeT telescope is able to detect.

The underwater telescope is bombarded by millions of different particles but only neutrinos can pass through the Earth to reach the detector from below.

Unlike normal telescopes, it looks down through the Earth at the same sky viewed by upward-facing telescopes in Australia.

The KM3NeT needed to be incredibly sensitive because the light detected from neutrino interactions was about as faint as the light from a lightbulb in Sydney as seen from Perth.

Each line has 18 modules equipped with light sensors along its length. In the darkness of the deep ocean, these sensors register the faint flashes of a special light that signals the interaction of neutrinos with the seawater.

Some of the major questions around particle physics and the nature of the universe can be answered by this project.

Thus, it will potentially usher in a new era in neutrino astronomy.

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