Google has granted $1 million of funding to three not-for-profits to nurture young Australians’ career ventures in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).
The three grants from Google are part of a $6.2m investment over the last 12 months to ensure the benefits of technology can be enjoyed by all Australians.
The Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME), FIRST Robotics Australia, and Engineers Without Border have split the grant to fund specialised programs that aims to reach disadvantaged young Australians. This includes Indigenous Australians and students from low socio-economic and regional areas.
Google Australia managing director, Maile Carnegie, said the lack of diversity in these fields is concerning.
“If Australia is to develop technology that serves the needs of all Australians and markets all over the world, we’ll need fresh thinking and new perspectives. It’s critical that students from all walks of life are introduced to this field and have the opportunity to shape it and benefit from it,” she said.
AIME will develop STEM content into their year seven and eight curriculum for indigenous students and claimed the program looks to increase the digital skillset of 4000 indigenous students by 2018.
AIME chief executive, Jack Manning-Bancroft, said the program is about getting in early while kids are in year seven and eight, and inspiring them to keep that imagination open.
“When you open up the possibilities of STEM subjects for kids, you unlock imagination. With these skills, we'll see the next generation of Indigenous scientists, engineers and mathematicians helping to solve some of the big questions of the future,” he stated.
FIRST Robotics Australia will take its FIRST LEGO League and FIRST Robotics programs into 150 new schools. This will reach more than 1500 students in low socio-economic and regional areas.
It indicated the programs will be focused on engineering and computer science and will give a robotics set to each school with on-going teacher mentoring and support.
FIRST Australia regional director, Luan Heimlich said Australia’s future jobs increasingly depend on technical skills founded on science, maths and technology. She said the program will give kids from all backgrounds the opportunity to become tomorrow’s innovators.
As for Engineers Without Borders Australia, it will use the funding to expand its existing program, “Regioneering Roadshow”.
According to the organisation, the grant will double the program’s geographic reach, allowing for STEM and computer science-focused training for 5000 young people, with a focus on young women, across regional Australia.
Child safety group, The Alannah and Madeline Foundation, is also a major beneficiary set to receive $1.2 million in funding in January 2016.