QUT Future You STEM Summit

Posted on November 12, 2021

I was lucky enough to be involved in the 2021 QUT Future You STEM Summit program which took place on 28 September to 1 October at the QUT Gardens Point campus. The program was aimed to help to teach the importance of a STEM mindset, entrepreneurship, and leadership. After hearing about the program and focus, I applied and was really happy to be accepted into the program.

The Summit was a student lead program ran by 3rd and 4th-year university students studying a STEM course. The four days were jam packed with university styled lectures featuring special guests and ‘STEM tasters’, an introduction to a specific STEM course offered at QUT.

On the first day we had a tour around the beautiful riverside grounds of the university, a short welcoming lecture by a guest speaker, and completed one taster. The other days however were very intense as they went from 8:30am to 5:30pm, but they were very interesting and engaging. The rest of days began with a 1.5-hour lecture, 2 of our chosen tasters, and then we finished with another lecture.

The lectures were mainly focused on the values of; entrepreneurship, leadership, and using STEM values and mindset. The lectures had three different guest speakers, who had a STEM focused background. To start they introduced themselves and their story on how they have used STEM to create new jobs and thrive in the workplace doing what they enjoy. This was then accompanied by a Q&A, which allowed us to ask specific questions regarding their jobs, journey, and advice. Jane Macmaster Chief of Engineers Australia, Australian’s Chief Scientist DR Cathy Foley, and Volker Richter the head of BMW Germany, where just a few of the speakers who were able to share their story and offer advice to us.

There were 14 tasters offered from a range of subjects in the science, technology, math, and engineering areas, and each student was able to select 6. My interest areas are math and science, so I selected pharmaceutical science, biomedical science, mechanical engineering, clinical science, data science and biological science. I spent most of my time in the QUT labs which were insane. Each taster started with a short introduction to the courses offered, what you could except to study and in what form that would take (construction, research, experiments…ect) then we were able to partake in an interactive activity or experiment to learn and investigate a certain goal.

The tasters which I enjoyed the most were the pharmaceutical, biomedical, clinical, and biological sciences, as they applied science to real life problems.

In the biological taster, we researched ‘enzyme activity in fungi’. We used high tech equipment to separate, test, measure, and compare different mushroom samples to understand how environmental conditions impact the fungi. In the clinical science ‘cancer pathology and pharmacology’ we made and learnt about Intravenous (IV) drips and experimented with creams by dissolving drugs in different basses. Pharmaceutical science ‘zombie busters’, focused on preparing vaccinations and a prescribing personal tablets to a patient, we also tested the quality of tablets, and the effect of disease on water fleas. Clinical science focused on ‘COVID-19 Contract tracing’ were we used different chemical solutions to determine if a group of people had covid based on the enzymes and antibodies in their body fluid.

During my time at the university, I worked in the labs with university professors, doctors and peers who shared an equal fascination with STEM and particularly the science subjects. I found the experience eye-opening to the ways in which I can apply myself and my knowledge in the future at university and in the real world. I also really enjoyed learning and working with other students who shared similar interests and the desire to learn. We were a very diverse group of young minds, but we shared the interest in learning, and it made the experience wonderful. I met many people during the experiments, lectures and sitting at lunch. I made a few really good friends, and we would head off into the city together after the day was complete to socialise and chat, I enjoyed it thoroughly and have maintained contact since. Overall, the experience was incredible, and I would highly recommend it to any student interested or keen, I have definitely learned a lot about university and what to expect in the future.

By Marina Delabbio

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