Women in STEM – IWD 2017

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To prepare for the world beyond school, students at St Patrick’s Technical College will commence P-TECH courses focused on Electrotechnology and Engineering (Production Technology) this year. Students will take part in a range of industry supported learning experiences and Cross Disciplinary Studies that will extend their education beyond traditional classroom exercises.

The P-TECH program includes opportunities to connect and build relationships with industry partners, and engage in hands-on, project-based activities, both at school and in the workplace. These experiences will help students to better understand the relevance of their learning and how it can be applied in the workplace.

Last week, on International Women’s Day (IWD), female students of St Patrick’s Technical College hosted a luncheon with the theme for IWD 2017 “Be Bold for Change”. The event had a strong focus on Women in STEM. Guest speakers included Dr Rebecca Heyer and Mrs Linda Burton.

Dr Rebecca Heyar joined the Defence Science and Technology Group (formerly DSTO) in 1999 and is currently a Discipline Leader in the Intelligence Analytics Branch. Throughout her talk, Rebecca encouraged students to make the most of new opportunities. “Move around: get out of your comfort zone, even if it’s only for a little while. The lessons you learn can be applied wherever you head next” she said.

Rebecca holds degrees in Health Sciences and Science (with Honours) and postgraduate qualifications in Criminology, Mathematics & Statistics, Scientific Leadership, and Psychology. She offered sound advice to students who are unsure of their desired career path. “Don’t be pressured into taking a particular path and don’t limit your choices if you don’t know what you want to do. Generalist studies can enable you to find your niche while trying a wide range of new and interesting things” she said.

During her time with DST Group, Rebecca has worked in the fields of multinational experimentation and wargaming, social network analysis, whole-of-government crisis management, and human identification technology for Defence, intelligence, and national security clients.

Linda Burton, Maths and Electrotechnology Teacher at St Patrick’s Technical College gave a very open, honest and heart wrenching presentation about the challenges during her life, particularly around domestic violence and how she overcame adversity.

Linda left school early without completing year 12 and then returned school to complete her SACE as an adult. She had a passion for science and wanted to go to university. Linda established a career as a Viticulture Biologist after completing a Science degree (whilst raising her son who is now 25 years old). She went on to later fulfill her long life dream of completing an electrical apprenticeship (as a mature age apprentice), winning awards at both a state and national level.

Following this, she had a second child (now 6 years old) and has continued her passion for teaching and tutoring young people. Linda previously completed her TAE and worked as a trainer in an RTO in particular to Electro-technology school students undertaking a VET programs all whilst studying her teaching degree.

Linda also owns a successful electrical contracting business with her husband in Northern Adelaide who employ and train their own apprentices. Teaching at St Pat’s provides Linda with the work/life balance to raise her young daughter and work within the family business.

Both Rebecca and Linda stressed that their learning and education has never stopped and has contributed to their success. “Commit to lifelong learning to broaden your horizons and find an employer that will support you in this” offered Rebecca.

The P-TECH pilot is supported by the Australian Government, which has engaged the Skilling Australia Foundation to manage the program. The P-TECH pilot at St Patrick’s is supported by the local community and the Catholic Diocese South Australia.