Galuwa inspires a new cohort of Indigenous students
For students with an aptitude for maths, creative thinking and problem solving, a degree in engineering or IT can open a world of opportunities. From 29 June to 3 July, a group of 27 indigenous high school students and one high school teacher took up the chance to spend a week in Sydney to explore the possibilities for themselves as part of the UTS Galuwa Engineering and IT Experience.
Presented by the Faculty of Engineering and IT (FEIT) in collaboration with Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning, the diverse program was designed to give the group an idea of what it’s like to study engineering or IT, and the opportunities and career paths it can lead to.
The students, all in years 9 to 12, travelled to UTS from across New South Wales and Queensland for five days of hands-on workshops, demos, talks, site visits, speed mentoring and networking opportunities. The program also included a number of social events, from bingo, bowling and fireside storytelling to lunch with industry representatives, Indigenous cadets and graduates, and a special graduation dinner at Lend Lease’s Head Office.
node The experience is fully-funded by industry sponsors and donors, with accommodation, meals and travel all organised by UTS , ensuring equity of access for students keen to explore how they can put their skills to use to create a better future.
Galuwa means ‘to climb’ in the Gadigal language, and that’s exactly what the experience encourages Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander high school students to do. Now in its third year, the Galuwa program has inspired and excited 85 Indigenous students to think about the possibilities of higher education – and is already translating to university enrolments at UTS.
Les Marshall-Peel, a first year engineering student at UTS, is the first Galuwa alumnus to enrol in an engineering or IT degree at UTS – and also the first member of his family to attend university. “I always had an interest in how things worked, and in design,” he says. “Galuwa gave me the focus and drive I needed to finish high school, and showed me the possibilities engineering and university had to offer.”
Galuwa is one element of a much broader collaboration between FEIT and Jumbunna, with a range of initiatives that together have brought about a dramatic increase in the number of Indigenous students enrolled in engineering and IT degrees at UTS, from just four in 2010-12 to 24 in 2015 – four of which are at postgraduate level.
FEIT hopes to be able to continue the Galuwa program indefinitely. Key to this are corporate and philanthropic partnerships, and the program this year welcomed Westpac as a new sponsor, joining ongoing partners ABB, Lend Lease, Aurecon, James N Kirby Foundation, and David and Vivienne Cook.
Maritza Messina, Industry Liaison Manager in FEIT and coordinator of the Galuwa program, says the program helps build aspiration in the students. “This program gives them the drive and motivation to finish their high school studies. That is what Galuwa is all about: raising their aspirations and making them believe that it is possible, and that UTS is here to support in every way we can.”
“We would love to see them come to UTS, but the aim is to increase their interest in pursuing a career in Engineering or IT and in attending university – so even if they end up in another University, we still consider it a success of the program.”