The next generation needs to know this

December 15, 2020

Algal biotech startups, the future of math, AI in healthcare and preventing hate speech on social media – find out what you need to know about 2021’s future industries.

Livestream STEM Event

By Heather Catchpole

I have a vested interest in the future. I’m hoping there’ll still be bees and butterflies, that democracy will survive, that people will have access to basic human rights, quality of life throughout life, fulfilling careers.

I’ll be honest, right now it’s not looking promising. Unprecedented and pivot were two of 2020’s most overused words. And the climate challenge was practically forgotten in the COVID crisis. The scale of this change will soon be business as usual for the next generation. So what are the things they need to know right now to help them navigate the future?

To help answer this question, I pulled together some of the best and brightest thinkers across education, health-tech, machine learning, social media, climate science and entrepreneurship to look at just that – what do our next generation need to know in order to create a world that supports them into the future.

Spark new ideas

The livestream STEM event was part of Spark Innovation Festival, Oct 2020. Spark is about innovation, startups and business and finding your purpose and this year’s focus was on being Agents of Change.

How education will/has changed

Mohamad Jebera, Founder & CEO Mathspace

Mohamad is founder and CEO of Mathspace, technology which personalises a student’s maths education. He began his career as a derivatives trader at Optiver, leading its “Robot trader” project and became a senior partner at the firm. Wanting to use his mathematical skill set for a greater good— he decided to switch careers, initially intending to become a maths teacher. Mathspace is his effort to extend his enthusiasm for numbers to as many classrooms as possible, and is now used in over 25% of Australian high schools.

The future of health-tech

Silvia Pfeiffer, CEO & Co-founder, Coviu

Dr Silvia Pfeiffer is Coviu’s CEO and Co-founder, driving the global mission of Coviu for universal access to healthcare. In recent months, Coviu became the leading telehealth software in use by Australian healthcare providers, delivering 500K+ consultations in April. With over 20 years of experience building new Web video solutions, Silvia has worked at leading corporations including Google, Mozilla, NICTA and CSIRO. Silvia and co-founder Nathan Oehlman spun Coviu out of the CSIRO in March 2018. Silvia has a double degree in computer science and business management and has led Coviu through the pandemic from a team of 7 to 35.

AI, algorithms and social media

Associate Prof Richi Nayak, QUT

Richi Nayak is leader of the Applied Data Mining Research group, the HDR coordinator of Computer Science Discipline, Course-coordinator of IT81 (Doctor of IT) and an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Science and Technology at Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia.

She has made significant contributions to three areas of Data and Web Mining: (1) Semi-structured Document Mining; (2) Web Personalisation and Social Network Mining; and (3) Applied Data Mining. Recently a deep learning algorithm identifying hate speech against women in social media was created by Nayak along with Professor Nicolas Suzor and research fellow Dr Md Abul Bashar in a collaboration between QUT’s faculties of Law, Science and Engineering, and the Digital Media Research Centre.

Algae, biofuels and innovation in climate change and science

Dr Alex Thomson, UTS

Dr Alex Thomson is a Superstar of STEM and the manager of the University of Technology Sydney’s (UTS) Deep Green Biotech Hub, and a lecturer in Environmental Science and Marine Biology. She has produced research papers on marine ecology and the carbon capturing potential of coastal systems. An advocate for sustainability and climate change action, she uses her research to engage and educate audiences about the potential of our global sustainable future. Alex is currently spearheading the world’s first dedicated algae accelerator program – joining biotechnology and entrepreneurship – through the Deep Green Biotech Hub, creating opportunities for STEM-preneurs across NSW to accelerate algae innovation and engage with science.

Read next: A Reverse Engineering Journey, Maryam Parvis

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