Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) students and professionals who will inspire the next generation of innovators are being invited to enter the 2017 Indigenous STEM Awards, which opened today.

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The awards are part of the Indigenous STEM Education Project, funded by the BHP Billiton Foundation and delivered by CSIRO.

CSIRO’s Indigenous STEM Education Project Director Therese Postma said celebrating and recognising Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in STEM was part of CSIRO and BHP Billiton Foundation’s commitment to increasing Indigenous participation and achievement in STEM-related professions.

“Positive role models are key to increasing participation in STEM. By showcasing and celebrating the achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, from students currently studying STEM through to STEM professionals, we’re aiming to inspire the next generation of leaders,” Ms Postma said.

“This year we will have two categories for the Indigenous STEM Professional Awards; an early career award and a career achievement award. Both these winners will become ambassadors for the Indigenous STEM Education Program.”

Dr Chris Matthews won the first Indigenous STEM Award in 2016 for his pioneering method of teaching maths to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students through dance and story.

Dr Matthews is from the Quandamooka people of Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island) in Queensland.

“It is fundamental for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth to see Indigenous STEM professionals recognised and celebrated, to know who these people are, why they have chosen a career in STEM and what they do in these careers,” Dr Matthews said.

“Australia tends to recognise and celebrate our Indigenous sporting people, and more recently musicians, artists and politicians, but does not recognise Indigenous people that have excelled in other fields particularly in STEM.”

“As the inaugural STEM Professional Award recipient, the award provided the opportunity to focus my work on mathematics education for Indigenous students. The award enabled me to present at an International Indigenous Mathematics Education Conference in Norway and to network with Indigenous and non-Indigenous colleagues from around the world,” he said.

Nominations for the Indigenous STEM Awards close 10 November 2017.

The winners will be announced in March 2018.  Find out more about the Indigenous STEM Awards.

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  • 2016 Indigenous STEM Professional Award winner Dr Chris Matthews with James Ensor (Chief Executive Officer, BHP Billiton Foundation)

    2016 Indigenous STEM Professional Award winner Dr Chris Matthews with James Ensor (Chief Executive Officer, BHP Billiton Foundation)

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