By Robyn Molloy

As Scitech marks its 30th year, the not-for-profit based in West Perth continues to raise the profile of science technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) for all West Australians.

Its Planet Pioneers exhibition even took up residence at the Space Center in Houston, United States, this month and will remain there until April next year. 

Scitech’s CEO Deb Hancock talks about STEM

 

In this Q&A with BP Digital, CEO Deb Hancock outlines some of Scitech’s achievements over the last three decades and why it continues to play a key role in the development and awareness of the skills WA needs for the future.

Q: What has been Scitech’s greatest achievement?

A: One of the greatest achievements is probably getting our exhibitions travelling all around the world. We can take the message of STEM engagement and its importance to the future of economic growth, and our society in general, and make sure people understand how important that is. Making sure we travel to every single corner of WA and engaging with every single community every three years is also important. 

Q. What has Scitech achieved in raising awareness of STEM?

A. We have an amazing history of raising the profile of how important science, technology, engineering and mathematics is to all West Australians. Every single year we see 300,000 people come through our City West science centre and we also engage 500,000 people right across Western Australia every single year. This is due in part to the fact that we have a number of very strong partnerships with different organisations. For example, our support from BHP, Rio Tinto, Chevron, Woodside, Alcoa, Shell and many others has allowed us to see millions of people in our 30-year history.

Q. There is a buzz around STEM skills and their importance to the future workforce, what will Scitech’s role in that be?

A. Scitech’s role is to communicate how important and how bright a future can be if people are equipped with the 21st century skillset, which includes the development of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. We are seeing new careers and new occupations being created right before our eyes right now, and the statistics that are coming out highlight that 75 per cent of the fastest growing jobs over the next decade require these skills.

What makes us concerned is, if you don’t have those STEM skills you are going to be locked out of 75 per cent of the fastest growing jobs of the future. Scitech’s role, therefore, is to make sure we take the message to everybody, with all of our partners in the STEM space, and make sure everyone understands they can equip themselves for a bright future with STEM skills.

Q. What has been the most popular display?

A. We’ve had a number of different exhibitions over the time. We have seen Special Effects, for example, where many years ago we had VHS tapes and people would actually record the creation of special effects videos and they now share them with their family. We’ve had many others such as Bionic Me, where we look at the application of the latest technology to increasing human performance and capability. We have a number of other exhibitions that have focused on space that have been popular as well.

Q. Can you describe how a display from 30 years ago compares with one from 2018

A. Back in the day there wasn’t a lot of electronic interaction in the exhibitions but now what you see is a big difference with immersive technologies being applied. We are talking about augmented reality, artificial intelligence and computer interactions, so it is an immersive experience.

Q. How important are partnerships what Scitech has been able to achieve?

A. Absolutely vital. We have partnerships with the Department of Education in WA, for example, that allows us to provide professional development and learning and training to teachers to make sure that our teaches are fully equipped to teach STEM to our next generation.  

Our partners include government, community and industry, of course. It also includes parents and guidance counsellors and teachers to make sure we are getting the message across about how important it is to develop these STEM skills. We would not be able to have the breadth, depth, reach and the impact right across WA without their support.

Visit Scitech’s website for more information about its current displays.

► Scitech is a valued CCI Member and supports the skills of the future. Find out more about CCI Memberships here.