Hutt at Heart

COVID-19 couldn’t stop IYM 2020

Innovative Young Minds, an initiative between Hutt City Council and The Rotary Club of Hutt City, delivered an enlightening and engaging online 2020 programme.

Usually held in the July school holidays as a residential programme in Lower Hutt, IYM exposes 80 Year 11 and 12 young women to the myriad of research and career opportunities available in STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and high-tech engineering).

Due to COVID-19, a residential programme wasn’t an option for 2020, so a one-week online programme was created. 70 young women, including 33 from the Wellington-region, spent the first week of the school holidays taking part in the virtual programme – this was delivered via Zoom and Google Classroom.

“It was really cool to meet lots of young girls who had a passion for STEM. I thoroughly enjoyed the programme and it was so fascinating to listen to many interesting talks from different people in the sciences and maths! I would absolutely love to do it again.” says Vidushi Tandon, a participant from Sacred Heart College.

As well as attending 16 virtual sessions, the participants worked in teams to devise a solution to a problem created by COVID-19. This was presented in the final session of the programme to a panel of judges.

“If these young women keep up the confidence and motivation I saw, our future is going to benefit from a fabulous generation of problem-solvers.” says Innovation Challenge judge Vanessa Oakley, General Manager, Strategy & Business Operations.

It was great to see Lower Hutt-based organisations and businesses were well-represented on the programme, including:

  • Callaghan Innovation: Dr Fleur Francois, Director of Callaghan Innovation’s Measurement Standards Laboratory and IYM Board of Trustees member, participated in careers panel discussions sharing her career journey.
  • WSP: Lia van den Kerkhof, Research Engineer/Scientist and Jack Adelston, Engineering Performance Technologist, provided an overview of the company and their career journeys.
  • Eight360: Terry Miller, 2019’s Young Engineer of the Year and cofounder of Eight360, a start-up business that design and builds VR simulators, spoke to the group about the highs and lows of life as a tech entrepreneur
  • SSS – IT Security Specialists: TimSweet, Information Security Consultant and Nicola Haldezos, Security Engineer ran a cyber security session where participants were able to perform a cyber-attack in a virtual lab.
  • Be Suite: Mid Thomas-Savielo, ran a fun and engaging networking session.

“This has been an awesome experience, had so much fun and learnt heaps! Thanks to everybody who made it possible!” says Jessica Sam, a participant from Naenae College.

IYM Online ended on a high, with a closing address from Sophie Handford (National Coordinator of the School Strikes 4 Climate, Kāpiti Coast District Councillor and Joint Wellingtonian of the Year Winner 2019) who inspired the participants with her journey since attending the residential IYM programme back in 2017.

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