Schooling STEM entrepreneurs

Teamwork is a big part of engineering and other STEM careers! Image: HunterWiSE

Move over Elon Musk, Year 8 girls in NSW’s Hunter Region are gearing up to give you some competition

Four years ago, a group of seven inspiring women in STEM from the University of Newcastle set up the HunterWiSE program to encourage girls to follow in their footsteps.

The ‘WiSE’ stands for ‘Women in STEM and entrepreneurship’. Over 10 weeks, students work with industry sponsors (like Transport NSW, Hunter Water, Glencore, GHD and NCGI) and uni mentors to hatch business ideas that help their communities.

Since 2017, more than 200 girls have taken part, and one of the program co-founders, Professor Anna Giacomini, hopes some of them will move on to engineering and STEM degrees.

University of Newcastle
The HunterWiSE founders – all professors or associate professors – have a powerhouse of skills to share. Pictured, from left: Anna Giacomini, civil engineering; Erica Wanless, chemistry; Regina Berretta, computer science; Elena Prieto, maths/computer science/education; Sarah Johnson, electrical engineering; Juanita Todd, psychology; Karen Blackmore, information technology.

Helping the community

Engineering uses creativity and tech to help improve people’s lives and the HunterWiSE students have come up with some great ways to do just that. For example, some students from dairy-farming families created an app that connected farmers directly to buyers to help them make better profits.

HunterWiSE co-founder Associate Professor Elena Prieto says the students also enjoy working with their female mentors from the uni, on a weekly basis. “The mentors are amazing. Some are undergrad STEM students and some are studying for a PhD,” Elena says.

HunterWiSE helps open up exciting career opportunities for female students outside the inner city.

This article is brought to you in partnership with University of Newcastle and originally appears in Careers with STEM: Engineering 2021.

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Nadine Cranenburgh

Author: Nadine Cranenburgh

Nadine is an electrical and environmental engineer who works as a freelance writer and editor. She loves creating articles and content about exciting and complex technology.

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