BAE Systems partners with The Smith Family to build youth STEM capability

BAE Systems Australia announced a $100,000 partnership with The Smith Family to support schools to participate in the Young ICT Explorers program, Australia’s biggest student invention competition.

Young ICT Explorers is a STEM-focused competition for students in years 3 – 12. The competition aims to inspire students to consider a future STEM career. The competition has been run by software company, SAP, for more than 10 years.

BAE Systems Australia chief technology officer Brad Yelland said the company was delighted to support teachers across Australia to develop new skills.

“Our business relies on STEM skilled employees and it’s important that we support programs like YICTE that will enable learning opportunities for young people and which could lead to future careers pioneering new technologies,” he said.

“The increasing digital divide is increasing which means that a huge number of young people are at risk of being left out of the workforce of the future and teachers are the key to ensuring the next generation of problem solvers and inventors have both the skills and capability to develop pioneering new technologies.”

Over the next three years, BAE Systems will support an Accelerator Program which will provide schools with the financial support and hardware that they need to participate as well as mentoring and coaching for the teachers to enable them to develop their digital skills.

BAE Systems’ “techsperts”, along with specialists from Junior Engineers, will run professional development workshops with The Smith Family for school teachers to train them in using Micro:bit technology, which can be used for YICTE competition projects.

The competition, which is aligned with the school curriculum, enables students to apply what they learn in their ICT/digital technologies classroom to develop a project of their choice.

At the judging event, students have the opportunity to present their project to a panel of academia, industry partners and ICT professionals.

Each project is assessed on the criteria of creativity, uniqueness, quality, level of difficulty and project documentation.