Google Australia supports Aussie children, invests in STEM
It appears Google Australia has begun investing in the country’s future—it’s children.
The tech giant’s philanthropic organisation (Google.org) recently announced its pledge to donate $1 million toward the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) educational industry. The funds will be split between FIRST Robotics, Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience (AIME) and Engineers Without Borders Australia.
It’s a move is expected to develop career programs and hands-on training; specifically for girls, indigenous Australians and underprivileged students.
The three non-profit organisations have started programs that intend to improve the lives of 10,000 Aussie children from lower-class backgrounds to pursue careers in STEM.
The funding received from Google will help AIME develop and incorporate STEM into school curriculum for indigenous students in an attempt to teach 4000 by 2018.
FIRST Robotics Australia plans to bring its FIRST LEGO League and FIRST Robotics programs into 150 new schools across the country and Engineers Without Borders Australia will expand its training to 5000 students, with a focus on females.
When compared to several other countries with similar economies, Australia ranks well behind in science and innovation in a report by the Office of the Chief Scientist.
For years these educational fields have been looked upon as significant to the nation’s future, and increased training would be a great boost.
“There is a universal agreement that no one knows what the jobs of tomorrow are going to be, but what there is consensus on is that the jobs of tomorrow will disproportionately have some STEM factor associated with them,” said Google Australia managing director Maile Carnegie.
Google, which employs over 600 engineers in Australia, says the donation is intended to expand the existing program’s geographic reach while connecting young Aussie engineers to youth, school and community groups throughout regional Australia.
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The majority of the funds will go toward assisting the orgainsation to reach 6500 children, 1400 parents and 500 teachers in 38 different locations across the nation.
According to a report from Graduate Careers Australia, only 15 per cent of Australia’s computer science graduates are female, while indigenous students are two and a half years behind their peers in both match and science literacy.
In addition, the Aussie government’s investment in research and development has dipped to its lowest mark in 30 years. Google Australia’s head of engineering Alan Noble believes the country isn’t grooming enough graduates in technical fields to ensure a bright future.
“There has been a 36 per cent decline in the number of students undertaking computer science degrees between 2001 and 2013, and today there are only 12,000 graduates every year,” said Noble. “Overall enrolments in STEM degrees are flat.”
It’s time to put an end to that.
Business Chief Legend: Ho Ching, CEO of Temasek
Ask Singaporeans who Ho Ching is, and the majority will answer the ‘wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’. And that’s certainly true. However, she’s also the CEO of Temasek Holdings, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, and one of the world’s largest investment companies.
Well, she is until October 1, 2021, as she recently announced she would be retiring following 16 years as CEO of the investment giant.
Since taking the reins in 2004, two years after joining Temasek as Executive Director, Ho has gradually transformed what was an investment firm wholly owned by Singapore’s Government into an active investor worldwide, splashing out on sectors like life sciences and tech, expanding its physical footprint with 11 offices worldwide (from London to Mumbai to San Francisco) and delivering growth of US$120 billion between 2010-2020.
Described by Temasek chairman Lim Boon Heng as having taken “bold steps to open new pathways in finding the character of the organisations”, Ho is credited with building Temasek’s international portfolio, with China recently surpassing Singapore for the first time.
As global a footprint as Ho may have however, she has her feet firmly planted on Singapore soil and is committed to this tiny city-state where she was not only educated (excluding a year at Stanford) but has remained throughout her long and illustrious career – first as an engineer at the Ministry of Defence in 1976, where she met her husband, and most notably as CEO of Singapore Technologies, where she spent a decade, and where she is credited with repositioning and growing the group into the largest listed defence engineering company in Asia.
It’s little wonder Ho has featured on Forbes’ annual World’s Most Powerful Women list for the past 16 years, in 2007 as the third most powerful woman in business outside the US, and in 2020 at #30 worldwide.
But it’s not all business. Ho has a strong track record in Singapore public service, serving as chairman of the Singapore Institute of Standards and Industrial Research and as deputy chairman of the Economic Development Board; and is a committed philanthropist with a focus on learning difficulties and healthcare.
As the pandemic kicked off, she not only led active investments in technology and life sciences, with German COVID-19 vaccine developer BioNTech among the most recent additions to Temasek’s portfolio, but through the Temasek Foundation – the firm’s philanthropic arm which supports vulnerable groups close to Ho’s heart, handed out hand sanitiser and face masks.
So, you would be forgiven for thinking that at age 68, Ho might simply relax. But in March 2021, just as she announced her retirement from Temasek, Ho joined the Board of Directors of Wellcome Leap, a US-based non-profit organisation that’s dedicated to accelerating innovations in global health. Not ready to put her firmly grounded feet up yet it seems.