Queensland students soar to new heights with drones

Published Friday, 24 February, 2017 at 08:45 AM

Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy and Minister for Small Business
The Honourable Leeanne Enoch

The Palaszczuk Government is helping Queensland schoolgirls soar to new heights by funding a drone company to encourage an interest in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy Leeanne Enoch today announced She Flies received a $9,980 Advance Queensland Engaging Science grant to conduct drone lessons across the state.

“Thousands of future jobs are expected to be created by drone technology. According to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, only three years ago in Australia there were 100 certified drone pilots. Today, nationwide, this has grown to around 900 certified drone pilots,” Ms Enoch said.

“We know that diversity is a key driver of innovation. It’s estimated that males are employed in 73 per cent of Australia’s STEM workforce and we need to address this imbalance and encourage girls to pursue careers in STEM.”

She Flies is one of 21 recipients sharing in more than $200,000 in funding under the program.

Queensland Chief Scientist Professor Suzanne Miller said the grants program aimed to increase the reach and impact of science in Queensland and boost the number of students enrolling in STEM subjects.

“She Flies, founded by 2015 Telstra Business Woman of the Year and scientist Dr Catherine Ball and James Cook University Townsville science lecturer Dr Karen Joyce, inspires schoolgirls to work with drones and explore an interest in STEM-related fields,” Professor Miller said.

Dr Ball, a world renowned drone expert, and Dr Joyce formed She Flies after realising very few females were involved in drones.

“The new drone economy is really just warming up now and we would like to see Queensland as a global hub of excellence around this technology, and other sister technologies,” Dr Ball said.

Dr Joyce said participants would gain confidence to engage with drone technology.

“Without a doubt, today’s participants are upcoming scientists and innovators, and we are giving them that kick-start. They are also becoming positive role models for their peers.”

Member for Barron River Craig Crawford congratulated students from local schools who participated in the inaugural She Flies Drone Day.

“Drones are increasingly being used in industries like agriculture and careers involving this technology vary from piloting drones and writing code to spatial data analysis, manufacturing and mechanical jobs. With this STEM knowledge, young Queenslanders will have a wide choice of career paths,” he said.

“It’s great to see this kind of initiative being undertaken in Cairns, preparing our young women for jobs of the future and reinforcing Smithfield High as a school of excellence.”

The inaugural She Flies Drone Day was held with the Tropical North Learning Academy Smithfield State High School, with students from Yorkeys Knob State School, Trinity Beach State School and Caravonica State School.

She Flies will conduct drone days and drone camps across Queensland and nationally. For more details visit the Advance Queensland website.

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