"In the September holidays, I attended the QUT Vice Chancellor’s Stem Camp for Year 11s. It was a five-day camp that brought 160 regional and Brisbane city students together to work on projects with world-class academics.
"My project was called the 2020 Mars Rover Mission and was centred around the mission of the same name. The project gave us a broad introduction to the world of astrophysics and facets, including, but not limited to, special relativity, exoplanet detection and factors that affect planet habitability. Our academic was David Flannery, an astrogeologist, who is working on the 2020 Rover mission.
"We worked with a flume tank to model the effects of running water- a key ingredient to sustaining life- on soil and compared it to satellite pictures of Mars. The rover’s mission is to establish whether there was life on Mars, and the project gave us the understanding to know what to look for in this search.
"Outside the project, we participated in other activities throughout our time, including networking with industry representatives and academics, an entrepreneurship challenge, university professor talks and a talent show. All these events broadened my view of what pursuing a career in STEM really was. A common theme throughout the talks was the emphasis on building networks and developing transferable skills such as coding, creativity and critical thinking. It is skills such as those that allow someone to achieve to their full potential in any career area, in or outside of science.
"The QUT Stem Camp was a fantastic experience that changed the course of my university studies, and I would highly recommend it to anyone with a passion for STEM. The people you meet will be friends for life, and the things you learn at the camp will guide your career path."
Chris O’Brien, Year 11