The University of Newcastle has launch its first crowdfunding campaign to create an Indigenous Science Communication scholarship.

The scholarship will enable an Indigenous university student to work with its highly successful Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM) outreach program and undertake an online science communication course.

With a proud history in Indigenous education and enrolments of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students at almost double the sector average, the uni’s crowdfunding campaign aims to address lower Indigenous participation rates in science and engineering.

Professor John Lester, Dean of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education and Research at UON’s renowned Wollotuka Institute, said the scholarship would help advocate for STEM in the Indigenous community.

“It gives an Indigenous university student an opportunity to learn new skills which will help them in their future career. It also creates a role model within the Indigenous community – an ambassador who can inspire school students to look at STEM education options which will increase STEM enrolments, participation and completions,” he said.

“It also provides a really important avenue for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander university students to bring their traditional culture into STEM education activities and show the strong link between Indigenous culture and science.

“Despite strong growth in Indigenous admissions in recent years, the share of enrolments in science and engineering are well below that of other degree areas, such as education and arts. With 75% of the fastest growing occupations worldwide requiring STEM skills and knowledge, it’s vital this gap is addressed.”

The successful student will have the opportunity to travel around Australia with the Challenge team, learning beneficial leadership, communication and practical skills. In 2016, the Science and Engineering Challenge will run new events throughout the Northern Territory and WA.

Dr Terry Burns, Director of the Science and Engineering Challenge, said the new events supported widening of participation in STEM.

“Our vision is to encourage all students, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, to consider a future career in Science and Engineering,” Dr Terry Burns said.

The Science and Engineering crowdfunding campaign aims to raise $9000.

View the launch video and crowdfunding page at  http://pozi.be/sciengchallenge.