DRONES are increasingly becoming a part of daily life, with companies and organisations across the globe already investing heavily in drone technology.
Now, thanks to an innovative James Cook University program supported by the Australian Government, local high-school girls will have the opportunity to learn more about this rapidly-growing field.
Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch has today announced that JCU will receive a grant of $249,075 towards a total project cost of $465,475 for She Flies Drone Camps: Building Northern Australia's Drone Ecosystem.
“The She Flies program will facilitate camps where high school girls will not only learn about the future of drone technology, but also gain the practical skills required to operate one,” Mr Entsch said.
“Drones are changing the way Australia operates, from having an ‘eye in the sky’ that supports Surf Lifesavers on our beaches, to herding stock in remote areas and providing a unique perspective for a whole range of photographic needs.
“It’s a very exciting time and I congratulate JCU for seeing an opportunity and leading the way.”
Local academic Dr Karen Joyce has been instrumental in establishing the Far North’s Drone Ecosystem and she wants more girls and young women to get involved.
Dr Joyce and her partners, Dr Catherine Ball and Paul Mead have established She Flies, an organisation aiming to develop community interest in drone technology, while simultaneously encouraging young women to take charge in this emerging field.
“The program will develop a series of camps aimed at teaching high school girls and their teachers or parents the possibilities of working with, and flying drones – from design and coding through to flying and finally using photography to create maps,” Dr Joyce said.
“She Flies is not just about drones. We have a bigger picture to help girls and women engage with the broader disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and maths – in doing so we open opportunities for Australia to innovate with 100 per cent of its talent pool.”
The funding made available to She Flies forms part of broader moves by the Turnbull Government to support women in STEM. The Government recently announced $3.9 million in funding to 24 organisations to rollout projects that will encourage girls and women to study and pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and maths.
Mr Entsch said the funding aims to combat the gender disparity within the scientific and research sector. “Women are underrepresented in STEM related studies and professions, only one in four IT graduates and fewer than one in 10 engineering graduates are women.” Mr Entsch said.
“The Turnbull Government is committed to improving gender equity and boosting female participation in STEM fields.”
The funding is the first round of the $8 million Women in STEM and Entrepreneurship grant program under the National Innovation and Science Agenda.
A wide range of projects will receive funding, from building interest in STEM for primary school age students, to supporting post-graduates and women already pursuing STEM careers, and encouraging entrepreneurship among women.
The projects are part of a concerted, national effort to overcome the cultural, institutional and organisational factors that discourage girls and women from studying STEM and choosing careers that require STEM skills.
Applications for a second round of the Women in STEM and Entrepreneurship program will open in 2017.
For more details on all projects funded see www.business.gov.au/womenSTEM