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“STEAMpunk” girls get inspired for innovation in science - and beyond

31 May 2017
Launched earlier this month, the STEAMpunk girls program comprises a series of workshops designed to introduce young women in high school to entrepreneurship in the fields of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM).

Pavlina Naydenova and James Tilbury are encouraging girls to pursue entrepreneurship in STEAM fields.

Last week Dr Pavlina Naydenova, Manager of the Deep Green Biotech Hub, and Mr James Tilbury of EnergyLab, presented on their areas of expertise to students participating in the pilot program.

“Many people don’t realise that algae is all around us, from our toothpaste to the sushi we eat,” Dr Naydenova said.

“I’d like the girls to think about all the cool stuff they can do with algae, and how they could get involved in an algae project not just from a scientific point of view, but from a business point of view too.”

Dr Naydenova, now harnessing her passion for ideation and innovation as well as her expertise in biotechnology, shared her story of transdisciplinary success with the STEAMpunk girls. After completing a Bachelor of Molecular Biology and a Masters of Plant Physiology at Sofia University in Bulgaria, followed by a PhD in Pharmacognosy, she decided to complete a diploma in leadership and management to broaden her professional skillset.

“I knew there were a lot of prospective pathways that come out of degrees in science, but I wanted to move away from academia,” said Dr Naydenova.

“I thought business and pharmacy worked really well together. I’ve always been interested in science, but now I’m interested in science from a different angle,” she said.

Established in 2016, the Deep Green Biotech Hub brings together researchers, students, entrepreneurs, enterprises and other stakeholders to develop algae biotechnologies that can be adopted into sustainable business models. The Hub also mentors UTS students through the UTS Bachelor of Creative Intelligence and Innovation through summer school and internship programs.

The Hub is just one example of the opportunities for multidisciplinary collaboration and innovation at UTS. EnergyLab, hosted by UTS at the Blackfriars campus, is an organisation that brings business and technology together to work towards a more sustainable future. Through collaboration between entrepreneurs, industry and community groups, EnergyLab seeks to develop clean energy innovations.

Pavlina Naydenova and James Tilbury presenting to STEAMpunk students at UTS.

Mr Tilbury’s presentation focussed on the challenges and opportunities for the future of clean energy, such as the issue of increasing the use of electric cars despite the current lack of car charging infrastructure. He also spoke about the increasing potential of the internet and the privacy concerns that weigh up against the benefits that big data could provide.

“It’s an exciting time to be alive,” Mr Tilbury said. “The business of clean energy is growing faster than ever before.”

Both speakers invited the girls to consider their own interests and how they could approach science in creative and innovative ways.

“We need more than just engineers in the business of Energy." Mr Tilbury said.

The STEAMpunk girls pilot program will run until August 2017. Schools, teachers and students can get in touch to find out how they can be involved in the program.
Contact STEAMpunk girls