From investing in women in STEM to committing $45 million to Australia’s solar technology, these are the initiatives that hit the headlines this week.
A week for women in STEM
Following the celebration of International Women in Engineering Day, the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering has announced 16 science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) champions to lead the federal government’s $41.2 million Elevate: Boosting Women in STEM program. The Elevate Advisory Group, consisting of 11 women and five men, will encourage women to pursue a career in STEM and award up to 500 undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships to women in STEM over seven years.
The program will be co-chaired by Chartered engineer Dr Marlene Kanga AO CPEng, a former National President of Engineers Australia, alongside Dr Adi Patterson, an international leader in nuclear science and technology.
“Our economic future and wellbeing depends on making the best use of all of Australia’s talents and intellect, to enable an environment where everyone can be the best they can be,” Kanga told create in a 2022 article.
The program aims to address gender inequities in STEM through fostering more women-led industry-academia collaborations in applied research and business, growing professional skills of women in STEM and by propelling women into senior leadership.
This investment in advancing women’s participation in STEM comes after Engineers Australia released their research on women in engineering, revealing that 90% of women in non-engineering fields did not consider it as a valid career option.
“Women make up 48 per cent of Australia’s workforce, yet account for just 13 per cent of the nation’s working engineers. Women are missing in action from the profession and this research tells us what we can do to change that,” said Engineers Australia’s Chief Engineer Jane MacMaster FIEAust CPEng.
Australia solar technology gets a boost
The Albanese government has injected $45 million in federal funding into the development and deployment of cutting-edge solar technology, including the next iteration of solar panels.
The multi-million dollar funding to the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics (ACAP) will extend operations of ACAP’s cutting edge solar photovoltaic research to 2030.
Led by the University of New South Wales School of Photovoltaic and Renewable Energy Engineering, ACAP includes research groups at CSIRO, Australian National University (ANU), University of Melbourne,University of Queensland, University of Sydney and Monash University.
According to ANU Professor Andrew Blakers, “this cash injection will ensure Australia remains at the forefront of solar innovation globally and will also bring us one step closer to achieving our goal of becoming a renewable energy superpower.”
To achieve Australia’s 2030 emissions reduction target it will require the nation’s largest recycling and clean energy advanced manufacturing ecosystem.
REACH, the Recycling and Renewable Energy Commercialisation Hub, at Deakin University has been given the green light to facilitate greener supply chains and accelerate business success as international markets move to a circular economy.
One of six recipients of the $50 million Australian government Trailblazer Universities Program grant, REACH will boost innovation and job creation in Geelong and western Victoria.