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From individual students soaring to success after attending summer schools to award winners changing the world with their research, read our stories and learn how the Indigenous STEM Education Project is changing lives.

Taylah Griffin

Taylah Griffin is the 2018 winner of the CSIRO Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Tertiary Student STEM Achievement Award.

Taylah is a proud Gangulu woman who grew up in Gordonvale in Far North Queensland. She has a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and has presented at InspireU UQ, a tertiary aspiration-building program for Indigenous young people.

Taylah is passionate about aeroplanes and flight technology and has completed engineering internships at Boeing Defence Australia and QANTAS. She is also a Boeing Defence Australia STEM ambassador and has been an integral part of the Boeing Defence Australia Reconciliation Action Plan working team.

Rhett Loban

Rhett Loban is the 2018 winner of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander STEM Professional Career Achievement award. Rhett is a Torres Strait Islander man, born in Brisbane. He is an Associate Lecturer at Macquarie University and is currently undertaking a PhD in Media Studies at the University of New South Wales. He also has a Masters of Information Technology from the Queensland University of Technology and a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) from the University of Queensland.

Rhett is the designer of Torres Strait Virtual Reality, a virtual reality game to highlight the unique culture, traditions and history of Torres Strait Islander people. The game also illustrates Indigenous environmental knowledge of seasonal, plant and animal life cycles and how this aligns with the island surroundings like the stars and the wind. The game has been implemented in several university courses relating to education, environmental policy, Indigenous studies and game design.

Torres Strait Virtual Reality has also been used to engage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander high school students in discussions around STEM careers. Rhett is passionate about using new technology and ways of learning in schools and universities, and is currently working at Macquarie University looking at the use of virtual reality for learning and teaching.

2018 Indigenous STEM Awards

[Image appears of hands holding a model aeroplane and then the camera zooms out to show a Taylah Griffin holding the model aeroplane and looking at it]

Taylah Griffin: I’m Taylah Griffin. I’m Gangulu mob and I’m a systems engineer at Boeing.

[Image changes to show Rhett Loban looking at the camera]

Rhett Loban: My name’s Rhett Loban.

[Image changes to show Rhett looking at the Torres Strait Virtual Reality game screen on his computer and the camera zooms in on the game playing on his screen]

I am a Associate Lecturer here at Macquarie University and I am the creator of Torres Strait Virtual Reality.

[Image changes to show Taylah talking to the camera and text appears: Taylah Griffin, 2018 Indigenous STEM Award Winner]

Taylah Griffin: I grew up in Gordonvale, a small sugar cane town south of Cairns.

[Images move through of Taylah as a child and then the image changes to show Taylah talking to the camera]

The remoteness of Gordonvale meant that we didn’t see many aircraft at all and it really sparked an interest in space and flight technology because it was all new and different and something I really hadn’t been exposed to before.

[Image changes to show Rhett talking to the camera and text appears: Rhett Loban, 2018 Indigenous STEM Award Winner]

Rhett Loban: Torres Strait Virtual Reality is a game that I developed that is a new way of learning and depicting a First Nation’s experience.

[Image changes to show Rhett holding a virtual reality headset up to his eyes and then the image changes to show the game playing on the virtual reality headset screen]

I believe it provides some insight into Torres Strait stories and knowledge and it helps promote my community and our unique culture to a wider audience.

[Images continue to move through of depictions from the virtual reality game and then the image changes to show Taylah talking to the camera]

Taylah Griffin: I studied an Honours Degree in Electrical and Aerospace Engineering at QUT.

[Image changes to show Taylah walking along through the grounds of the QUT]

I’m becoming the first person in my family to go to university.

[Image changes to show a facing and then profile view of Taylah as she walks and then the image changes to show Taylah talking to the camera]

I started to get involved at QUT through the Oodgeroo Unit where I was able to surround myself every day with like minded young indigenous people all looking to better themselves and our people through education.

[Image changes to show Rhett looking at a screen and then images move through of the virtual reality game playing displaying a beach and various beach creatures]

Rhett Loban: We implement Torres Strait Virtual Reality at the University of New South Wales and we came at it from a couple of different angles in each class.

[Images continue to move through from the virtual reality game showing a pier, and an underwater shot of various fish and sharks swimming, and then the image changes to show Rhett talking]

So, whether it was an advantage policy course, an education course, an indigenous studies course or even a game design course.

[Image changes to show Taylah looking at a model Wedgetail aircraft and then the camera zooms in to show it turning it around in her hand]

Taylah Griffin: I currently work in the Wedgetail Programme at Boeing. A Wedgetail is a converted Boeing 737 aircraft with a massive radar on the top of it.

[Image changes to show Taylah talking to the camera]

The RAAF has a fleet of six of them and they’re kind of like a flying air traffic control tower.

[Images move through of Rhett walking towards a building, an aerial view of Rhett walking, a computer screen displaying the game, and then Rhett operating the computer]

Rhett Loban: I think it’s important to recognise indigenous people in STEM because I think it’s an opportunity for Torres Strait Islanders and Aboriginal people to share their knowledge with the wider Australian community.

[Images move through of Taylah walking along outside a building, Taylah talking to two school girls, Taylah displaying something on a Smartphone, and then Taylah talking to the camera]

Taylah Griffin: By recognising the indigenous achievements in STEM we’re putting a spotlight on indigenous excellence and we’re highlighting to young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians that STEM education and STEM careers and STEM excellence are all completely achievable.

[Music plays and CSIRO logo and text appears on a blue screen: CSIRO, Australia’s innovation catalyst]

2018 Indigenous STEM Award Winners: Taylah Griffin and Rhett Loban

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