Keynote speakers

18–19 October 2021
Online – powered by Zoom

Convened in association with the Geelong Tech School at The Gordon.

Professor Kate Smith-Miles

University of Melbourne
Session: Monday October 18, 9.35am-10.00am

Kate Smith-Miles is a Professor of Applied Mathematics at the University of Melbourne. Passionate about interdisciplinary applications of mathematics, her award-winning research has found application in many fields as diverse as manufacturing design, epidemiology, computer vision, finance, and stem cell modelling. She is the former President of the Australian Mathematical Society.

The Criticality of Mathematics Training In Creating Innovative Futures

This talk tackles some of the many myths about mathematics that affect student perceptions and equips teachers to respond with debunking examples. The foundational aspect of the school mathematics curriculum can make it difficult for students to see the relevance to the real world and their future. The role of mathematics in tackling many of society's greatest challenges will be discussed, and the reason that mathematics consistently ranks as the top job in an annual world survey of occupations will be explained.

Finally, some classroom suggestions will be offered that can help students appreciate that - far from being a dusty, old and irrelevant subject - new mathematics is being developed all the time in response to society’s needs and STEM. A personal reflection concludes the talk, including an overview of the career opportunities and the societal impact that becomes possible with mathematics training.

Dr Tien Kiew

Member of the Legislative Council for the South Eastern Metropolitan Region
Victoria’s STEM Education Ambassador
Session: Monday October 18, 2.40pm-3.10pm

STEM Education Ambassador

Dr Tien Kieu will outline his role as Victoria’s first STEM Education Ambassador, including working with schools and teachers, specialist STEM facilities and employers across Victoria to champion STEM education and pathways. He will also be working with Dr Amanda Caples, Victoria’s Lead Scientist, to identify ways schools and STEM industries can join forces to give students more opportunities for hands-on learning. Dr Kieu will describe the importance of STEM in his own life, from a refugee experience through becoming a physicist and now a politician, where skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, collaborating and communicating have been crucial. As in his own experience, Dr Kieu will discuss how STEM skills set us up for more than just getting a job, being critical to young people becoming active and informed citizens.

Acknowledging the reality of low participation in some STEM areas by students and teachers, the Ambassador will address increasing participation in STEM, particularly by women and girls. The Ambassador will consider the role of parents in encouraging the study of STEM, as well as the need for increased recruitment and training of teachers in STEM, particularly in regional Victoria. The Ambassador will also discuss the importance of STEM in economic recovery and the fight against COVID-19.