Thursday, June 25, 2020

Mooted federal government investment in tertiary science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education has been applauded by the Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heating (AIRAH). 

Proposed changes announced recently by Education Minister Dan Tehan would cut costs to students by 20 per cent for applied science, IT and engineering degrees, and support industry internships for graduates. 

“Any measures designed to improve access to STEM degrees, and subsequently, career pathways for those who boast those skills, certainly gains the support of AIRAH,” says AIRAH CEO Tony Gleeson, M.AIRAH. 

“STEM graduates – particularly mechanical engineers and those proficient in environmentally sustainable design – will be a key part of designing the net-zero-carbon buildings that are pivotal if Australia is to realise its environmental commitments under the Paris Agreement. 

“You’ll also find AIRAH members working in critical areas such as big data analytics, renewable heating and cooling, resilience, data centres, healthcare facilities, infection control, building physics and façade design, and of course refrigeration, which incidentally we celebrate tomorrow – June 26 – on World Refrigeration Day. 

“Indeed, the HVAC&R industry is essential to Australia’s health, comfort and productivity. So, incentives to encourage students along the path to take up courses of study in areas such as mechanical engineering are to be lauded.” 

AIRAH also sees merit in the announced $900 million National Priorities and Industry Linkage Fund, which is designed to produce job-ready graduates. 

Yet Gleeson says support for teaching, studying and research across the breadth of tertiary disciplines, including the arts and humanities, is crucial to Australia’s future economic and social health. 

“Australia needs graduates who can think creatively and independently, ask questions, synthesise complex information, and clearly express themselves,” Gleeson says. 

“It’s the well-rounded graduates who will be the most change-ready in the exciting post-campus life that awaits them.”