The new technologists

Westpac Scholars

Photo: Four UTS students that are part of the Westpac Scholars program

UTS and Westpac partner to lead Australia’s future engineers.

Amid growing concerns about Australia’s ability to meet its future needs in science and technology, UTS has partnered with Westpac to deliver a new vision for our future leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The result is the creation of a new scholarship to encourage excellence in undergraduate study of engineering. It’s still early days, but this partnership is already showing signs that by fostering young talent and feeding their enthusiasm, our future will be in good hands.

“If we want to have the workforce of the future, we need to be part of the conversation to encourage young people to think about the skills and capabilities they’ll need to succeed in future careers — some that don’t even exist yet.”
– Sue Doherty

The Young Technologist Scholarship, created in partnership with the Westpac Bicentennial Foundation, offers first-year undergraduate students enrolled in Bachelor of Computing Science, Bachelor of Information Technology, or Bachelor of Information Systems the opportunity to receive a scholarship valued at $5,000 per year for each year of their degree.

Now in its third year, the Young Technology Scholarship program has seven recipients, known as the Westpac Scholars, studying at UTS. In addition to gaining industry exposure and exploring career opportunities through leadership forums and workshops, they have become a valuable sounding board for identifying gaps in making the study of STEM subjects appealing and accessible.

“A few of us were able to get in some extra study and work experience over the winter break,” said Westpac Scholar Jessica Domazet. “We had mentors who knew we had very little experience, and they let us see the reality of what they do. That gave us a lot of insight.”

“It was good to learn they’re not necessarily looking for people who have experience with technology — that they want people who have an enthusiasm for it,” adds Kritika.

In a recent statement, Sue Doherty, who leads STEM advocacy at Westpac, commented, “If we want to have the workforce of the future, we need to be part of the conversation to encourage young people to think about the skills and capabilities they’ll need to succeed in future careers — some that don’t even exist yet. And that’s STEM.”

Studies about Australia’s technological future found that the number of students studying physics and mathematics have plummeted alarmingly.

Westpac’s efforts to encourage the study of STEM subjects extends to all levels of education, but it sees tertiary education as crucial for bridging the gap between academia and the workforce — an area in which UTS excels. “For the first time we’ve been able to provide pathways for those scholars to have practical, paid work experience. Our university partners tell us this is the most pivotal thing, something the education system can’t do on its own,” says Doherty.

Story and photography by Kevin Cheung