News and notes from Google Down Under
$1 million to creating moments that inspire young Australians with careers in STEM
Friday, July 31, 2015
When we talk with successful people working in the fields of science, technology, engineering and maths, we often hear a similar story: that one special moment, program or person that inspired them along the way. These are the kind of moments that stir curiosity, feed a long-held thirst for knowledge, or ignite some unknown passion.
For students, it could be a classroom visit from a software engineer, an after-school program on robotics, or an excursion to laboratory or science museum that opens up young minds to the diverse career opportunities offered by science and tech.
We think these moments are too important to be left to chance.
Australia is not keeping up with demand when it comes to graduates in fields like computer science, and when we look at girls, Indigenous Australians, and those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, that picture is even worse.
That’s why we will work with three Australian not-for-profits to introduce and inspire 10,000 underrepresented students to careers in science, technology, engineering and maths. These landmark partnerships will put to use $1 million in cash grants from Google.org to deliver hands-on training and career programs that will reach these underrepresented groups.
(Talia Rose, science and engineering student at the University of Queensland and Engineers Without Borders Australia volunteer)
Australian Indigenous Mentoring Experience
will develop STEM content into their Year 7 and 8 curriculum for Indigenous students, making the subjects relevant through experience-based learning. The program will increase the digital skillset of 4,000 Indigenous students by 2018.
FIRST Robotics Australia
will take its FIRST LEGO League and FIRST Robotics program into 150 new schools, providing a robotics set, teacher mentoring and support to student groups across Australia. FIRST will reach more than 1500 students in low-SES areas and regional schools, building teamwork and inspiring young Australians in the fields of engineering and computer science. To sign up, visit
Engineers Without Borders Australia
will expand its “Regioneering Roadshow”, which will give hands-on, STEM and computer science focused training to 5,000 young people, with a particular focus on young women. The Google grant will double the existing program’s geographic reach and connect young professional engineers to community, youth and school groups across regional Australia.
Australia’s jobs of the future will require new skills, and it’s critical that students from all walks of life are introduced to this field and have the opportunity to shape it and benefit from it. We hope that these three organisations will create more moments that will inspire our kids.
For more STEM resources visit
Posted by Maile Carnegie, Managing Director, and Alan Noble, Engineering Director of Google Australia.
Should My Kid Learn to Code?
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
(Editor's note: This is a cross-post from the
Google Research Blog
Over the last few years, successful marketing campaigns such as
Hour of Code
Made with Code
have helped K12 students become increasingly aware of the power and relevance of computer programming across all fields. In addition, there has been
growth in developer bootcamps
, online “learn to code” programs (
, etc.), and non-profits focused specifically on girls and underrepresented minorities (
Girls who Code
Black Girls Code
This is good news, as we need
many more computing professionals
than are currently graduating from Computer Science (CS) and Information Technology (IT) programs. There is evidence that students are starting to respond positively too, given undergraduate departments are
experiencing capacity issues
in accommodating all the students who want to study CS.
Most educators agree that basic application and internet skills (typing, word processing, spreadsheets, web literacy and safety, etc.) are fundamental, and thus, “digital literacy” is a part of K12 curriculum. But is coding now a fundamental literacy, like reading or writing, that all K12 students need to learn as well?
In order to gain a deeper understanding of the devices and applications they use everyday, it’s important for all students to try coding. In doing so, this also has the positive effect of inspiring more potential future programmers. Furthermore, there are a set of relevant skills, often consolidated as “
”, that are becoming more important for all students, given the growth in the use of computers, algorithms and data in many fields. These include:
Abstraction, which is the replacement of a complex real-world situation with a simple model within which we can solve problems. CS is the science of abstraction: creating the right model for a problem, representing it in a computer, and then devising appropriate automated techniques to solve the problem within the model. A spreadsheet is an abstraction of an accountant’s worksheet; a word processor is an abstraction of a typewriter; a game like Civilization is an abstraction of history.
An algorithm is a procedure for solving a problem in a finite number of steps that can involve repetition of operations, or branching to one set of operations or another based on a condition. Being able to represent a problem-solving process as an algorithm is becoming increasingly important in any field that uses computing as a primary tool (business, economics, statistics, medicine, engineering, etc.). Success in these fields requires algorithm design skills.
As computers become essential in a particular field, more domain-specific data is collected, analysed and used to make decisions. Students need to understand how to find the data; how to collect it appropriately and with respect to privacy considerations; how much data is needed for a particular problem; how to remove noise from data; what techniques are most appropriate for analysis; how to use an analysis to make a decision; etc. Such data skills are already required in many fields.
These computational thinking skills are becoming more important as computers, algorithms and data become ubiquitous. Coding will also become more common, particularly with the growth in the use of visual programming languages, like
, that remove the need to learn programming language syntax, and via custom blocks, can be used as an abstraction for many different applications.
One way to represent these different skill sets and the students who need them is as follows: All students need digital literacy, many need computational thinking depending on their career choice, and some will actually do the software development in high-tech companies, IT departments, or other specialized areas.
I don’t believe all kids should learn to code seriously, but all kids should try it via programs like
. This gives students a good introduction to computational thinking and coding, and provides them with a basis for making an informed decision on whether CS or IT is something they wish to pursue as a career.
Posted by Maggie Johnson, Director of Education and University Relations, Google
Total Eclipse of the Cloud
Thursday, July 16, 2015
Cross-posted from the
Google for Work blog
Every day, thousands of companies switch off their on-premise servers and move to the cloud. And more than five million businesses around the world have taken that shift to the cloud by moving to Google Apps, including
. But one big question remains unanswered: what’s going to happen to all those dark, windowless little server rooms?
We teamed up with
, an interior design consultancy, to come up with few ideas for how those rooms could be used today. This is what they proposed.
Karaoke at lunch anyone?
The salad bar just got real
Play ALL the games!
The servers are gone. It’s time to reclaim the office.
Posted by Kevin Ackhurst, Managing Director, Google for Work APAC
Careers with code - setting up our young people for the jobs of the future
Tuesday, July 7, 2015
Technology doesn’t stand stand still. Neither do careers, or the skills that we need for the job of tomorrow. Just as careers like
(yep it was a real job) were replaced by alarm clocks, ice cutters by refrigeration, and lamp lighters by electricity, so too are we seeing a transformation in the types of jobs we’ll need and want as a future society.
And the pace of change is incredible. As few as eight years ago there were no Android or iOS developers - because there were no smartphones! Self-driving cars were just a dream. And 3-D printing of prosthetics wasn’t even imaginable. Yet today, all those these sectors are thriving and likely to supply many of tomorrow’s jobs.
Last year we helped to publish the
Careers with Code
guide, which showed in one place the wide variety of careers that computer science can lead to - everything from art and music to medicine and agriculture. In Australia alone, demand for skilled computer scientists is growing rapidly.
However, if we look at enrolment numbers at our universities, you’ll see a more worrying trend. Dr Rebecca Vivian from CSER Group did a recent analysis
, and you can see that enrolments in IT degrees are essentially stagnant, and they are also much lower for women.
Author: Dr Rebecca Vivian, CSER Group. Data source: http://highereducationstatistics.education.gov.au
There’s no other way to say it: these numbers are disappointingly low. But there are things we can do to address them.
shows that career perception, social encouragement, and early academic exposure can have a strong impact on the engagement of women in computer science and technology related studies.
These are the areas we’ve chosen to focus on in Australia, and we work with some great partners to try to turn this around. There are a few key programs we see making a real difference:
Promoting a diversity of careers and profiling women in the
Careers with Code Guide
, and supporting events like
Power of Engineering
Supporting the implementation of the Digital Technologies curriculum with teacher professional development through our
from Adelaide University
robotics program which help to inspire the students of today with the possibilities of tomorrow.
With a cross-industry approach, we’re hoping to paint a compelling picture of what tomorrow’s jobs might be like - and along the way change these enrolment patterns so that all young Australians, regardless of gender, are considering careers with code.
Posted by Sally-Ann Williams, Engineering Community and Outreach Manager
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