James Bond and loud explosions seem to go hand-in-hand, but it’s not the combat skill or quick quips that Freya Manion, Year 9, found inspiring growing up. It was all the gadgets!
Freya has always been interested in technology, and has for a long time thought that she would like to work in cyber security. Recently, she was accepted into the fantastic 'Girl Power in STEM' program run by the University of Melbourne, and was introduced to some of the wider career options available in the STEM industry.
“It opened my eyes more to the options out there. Going into the program, I really valued technology, science and maths and didn’t really know anything about engineering.” Freya says. During the program, she learned that “engineering is behind everything. If you’re learning how to code, it’s like being a software engineer. While you’re doing these things, you are actually being an engineer. You’re learning the skills to engineer something.”
The Year 9 at Korowa Anglican Girls' School has a clear vision of where she would like to work in the future and was encouraged to apply for 'Girl Power in STEM' by her STEAM teacher, Mr Heath McGregor.
Freya initially misread her acceptance email, but luckily showed it to her mum who broke the good news to her. She hoped to improve her technology skills through the program but has learned so much more about her future career options.
“I have always thought of tech as being a big part of what I would to do as a job," Freya said. "I’ve always been that kid that gets it. I saw it as a chance to advance my tech skills, but I came away with something completely different. I thought going into this, that I wanted to have a career in cyber security, but what I’m learning is that that is a form of software engineering. There's so much more I can do.”
Just 30 students were accepted into the program, which offers mentoring and workshops designed to encourage students to continue studying STEM into university. In July this year, the Year 9 students stayed at college in Melbourne Uni for a three-day camp together. They will come together each year to be mentored until Year 12.
The camp included some lectures, but was very hands-on. Freya participated in coding workshops, programming and lectures explaining the different types of engineering. Each lecture was run by a university student, giving those students the chance to teach as well as learn.
Freya has a real passion for STEM, but encourages all students to continue studying Science, Technology or Maths right up to Year 12 and to develop the problem-solving and critical thinking skills so critical to future job-readiness. “We learned that it’s between the ages of 13 and 17 that most girls stop studying STEM subjects. It’s really important to keep up with Science, Technology or Maths, and Engineering is the one that puts all of them together.”
For other students interested in applying for the program, applications for next year will be advertised on the University of Melbourne website and staff will inform students once applications open.