“You are interested in a career in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematical fields but don’t know where to start? Take a read of this article by Dennis Chen to gain an insight of STEM education and how to prepare yourself for future STEM careers.”
Why is STEM education important?
“But will I ever actually need to know how to use STEM knowledge in the future?”
This single thought has been echoed by countless numbers of students, particularly in maths classrooms, across the state. In the past few years, there has been a worrying decline in the number of students that choose to take higher levels of maths, perhaps due to the perceived boring or difficult nature of the course. However, as we move into a more digitally connected and increasingly automated world, it seems as though the need for these types of maths skills in the burgeoning STEM industry will only continue to increase.
STEM is a very broad and constantly changing field with new and exciting developments happening on daily basis. There is really no industry that has as much potential as the field of STEM and by choosing a career in STEM, you will have the opportunity to be involved in some of the ground-breaking innovations that have the potential to change the way we live our lives. Current developments in areas such as machine learning, quantum computers and self-driving cars are already having profound impacts on our lives. Don’t think these revolutionary developments are only happening in technological hotspots like Silicon Valley. The Australian government has invested billions into a “national innovation and science agenda” in order to facilitate the construction of key research infrastructure and support new technological start-ups in a significant boost to the STEM industry in Australia.
If the prospect of working on something that could literally change the world isn’t enough for you, then there are plenty of other financial incentives to choosing a STEM career. Firstly, STEM graduates have lower levels of unemployment and higher salaries than non-STEM graduates. This trend is only expected to increase as the workplace becomes increasingly automated with disruptions by new technologies. Secondly, the Government is providing significant funding to support a range of education projects to improve STEM outcomes for school students.
My dynamic experience in the STEM field at the University of Sydney
Throughout my past two years at university, I’ve had the opportunity to be both directly and indirectly involved with some of these incredibly important technological developments in the STEM field. The University of Sydney hosts one of the world’s leading research centres in the area of quantum computing: the Sydney Nano Institute. During this past semester, I’ve taken part in a research project investigating a new model for a quantum computer which is theoretically much more stable and robust than current quantum computers.
Earlier this year in July, I went up to Brisbane to take part in the Droid Racing Challenge which was hosted by QUT. For this competition, we had to build a small scale, self-driving car which would be able to autonomously navigate itself around a course using computer vision. By choosing a to study STEM related courses at university, you could very well be spending your future working on the cutting edge of technology.
Preparing yourself for future STEM careers
So, if you’re currently a high school student looking to pursue a STEM related career, then here is some advice for what you can do right now to prepare yourself for the future and get a leg up over everyone else.
First thing to conquer is to challenge yourself with maths. For any STEM related field, you are looking to enter, mathematical knowledge is compulsory. Maths is a cumulative skill, gaining a strong foundation during high school will really make the maths you do at university more manageable. If Maths is a weakness of yours, I strongly recommend investing more time into it, revise concepts from class and attempt as many practice questions as you can as practice makes perfect.
Another recommendation is to do at least one other STEM related subject that you are fascinated with. There is a broad variety of STEM related HSC courses ranging from the sciences (e.g. Physics, Chemistry and Biology) to more technologically oriented courses such as Engineering Studies or Software Design and Development. If you’re unsure about what area you want to go into, you can try a few of these subjects in year 11 and then decide in year 12 if you want to keep going. Keep in mind that if, for example, you didn’t do Physics in high school but the engineering course you really want to do requires you to have done HSC physics, many universities offer bridging course that you can do.
Lastly, if you are struggling with a subject, do not let pride get in the way. Get help immediately or take up tutoring as soon as you can possibly can. Tutoring, especially Stepping Stones Education, offers personal attention and professional assistance in developing your understanding and skills in order to approach school exams and the HSC with greater confidence.
Dennis, graduated from North Sydney Boys High School with a perfect ATAR of 99.75, is currently a second-year student studying Bachelor of Mechatronic Engineering combined with Bachelor of Advanced Science (Physics Major) at University of Sydney. Dennis is one of our excellent Maths and Physics tutors.
Dennis’ HSC Marks
- English Advanced 92% 92%
- Mathematics Extension 2 94% 94%
- Mathematics Extension 1 97% 97%
- Physics 95% 95%
- Latin Continuers 95% 95%
- Latin Extension 94% 94%
- Information Process and Technology 97% 97%
By Dennis Chen
The Stepping Stones Team
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George Nott, 2017, Quantum computer at the Sydney Nano Institute which is part of Microsoft’s Station Q global quantum computing network, photograph, viewed November 2018, https://www.cio.com.au/article/625233/microsoft-forges-multi-year-multi-million-dollar-quantum-computing-partnership-sydney-university/