Greetings from Tech Town: How STEM grads are shaping our cities

Our cities are about to get a major upgrade thanks to some seriously talented computer scientists. Image: Shutterstock

From cashless shopping, to remote learning and traffic-dodging apps, technology is fast revolutionising the way we do the everyday things in our neighbourhoods like shop, study and drive.

You don’t have to be living in Silicon Valley to experience game-changing tech developments shaking up our towns and cities. Chances are even your local shops are enjoying cutting-edge innovations that increase efficiency and customer experience. Here, we take a behind-the-scenes snoop at what’s really going down in the places you frequent every day, and the exciting and in-demand computer science (CS) careers popping up thanks to the ever-changing tech-scape.

School

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The tech: Virtual reality

With the COVID-19 pandemic encouraging schools all over the world to tap into their remote-learning resources, tech + learning is having a major moment. Improved student-teacher interactions via outlets like email, Dropbox and Google Classroom; swapping out physical resources for digital-everything; and extending the classroom community with platforms like Zoom and Edmodo have all been pretty standard adoptions over the last year. But the maddest EduTech to come out of 2020-something? The Virtual Reality (VR) resources being developed by Oculus, Samsung and Google capable of literally immersing us in our favourite subjects!

Tech + education careers: educational technologist, education software programmer, information and communication technology engineering (e-learning) specialist, teacher, VR developer

One of the coolest things about working in tech? Often you can get away with logging in remotely. Image: Shutterstock

The supermarket

The tech: Smart trolleys

These days the act of stocking up on essentials is packed with a trolley full of tech offerings – think: online shopping capabilities, in-app price matching, predictive analytics and self-service tech – but one of the coolest new developments in the retail pipeline is cash- and card-less purchasing. Amazon’s soon-to-be-released Dash Cart has in-built sensors and cameras that track items as they’re placed inside, along with a QR code that signs you into your account. All this makes checking out as simple as pushing it through a designated lane.

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Tech + shopping careers: data analysts, mobile app developers, user experience (UX) specialists, software engineers

The Gym

The tech: Cloud-connected equipment

Ever used an app to book into a gym or yoga class? Logged your fitness progress digitally or worn a smart watch during a workout? Chances are most of us have used tech created by CS grads to make our health, wellbeing and fitness lives a little easier. Smart, cloud-connected equipment is set to become the new norm too, with new advanced analysis capabilities able to grade a user’s technique and ‘spot’ when they struggle to complete an exercise. Yep, we feel fitter already!

Tech + fitness careers: fitness tech engineer, platform engineer, ergonomic engineer, IT support

The Park

The tech: Live-streamed nature experiences

Looking for a wide-open space to chill/kick a ball/have a picnic in? Searching for nearby parks online and then following a mapped-out route on an app are tech-enabled conveniences we’d literally be lost without. And if you’re dreaming of nature but unable to get there, thanks to VR capabilities and 360-degree cameras, sites like earthcam.com allow you to live stream parks around the world from the couch.

Tech + park jobs: systems support engineer, AV technician, VR developer, app developer

The Petrol Station

The tech: Self-driving servicing

Pre-programmed automated pumps were a major game changer back in the day, but now we’re looking toward a world where you may not even have to get out of the car to refuel. Engineers are working on creating smart gas stations, where robotic arms connect to and refuel vehicles, allowing customers to stay seated and automatically pay via a mobile app. Plus, with autonomous vehicles in development, software components and servicing applications would eventually need to support self-driving models, too.

Tech + gas careers: systems engineer, production engineer, petrophysicist

This article originally appears in Careers with STEM: Tech 2020.

Cassie Steel

Author: Cassie Steel

As Refraction’s digital editor, Cassie Steel spends her days researching robots and stalking famous scientists on Twitter.

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