Feature Post: Bethany's experience at QUT VC STEM Camp

This week we have a feature blog post from one of the year 11 high school students that our group had the pleasure of hosting during QUT VC STEM Camp last month.  Bethany, from St. Benedict's Collage, wrote this piece for her school newsletter.

Report from QUT Vice-Chancellors STEM Camp by Bethany Conroy Year 11

At the conclusion of Semester Two, I was offered a place to attend the QUT VC STEM Camp to be held during the Term 3 holidays. Last week, I was fortunate enough to spend a week at QUT participating in this program for high achieving Year 11 students. Over the week that I was at QUT I participated in various talks held by QUT researchers and people from industry. I was fortunate enough to meet Queensland Chief Scientist Dr Geoff Garret AO, Rodger Lawrence, Chief Technologist for Innovation in HP Enterprise Services and Associate Professor Mia Woodruff. Along with other students also participating in this program, we discussed the world in ten years and listened to how these academics saw the future in ten years and the technological advances that we could expect to see.

The main goal of the week was to complete a research project and present our findings to our peers at the conclusion of the week. I participated in a research project facilitated by Associate Professor Mia Woodruff, her team and QUT student ambassadors. The project I worked on was Biofabrication: Biomedical Printing is Hear. The end goal of our project was to construct a life like prosthetic ear which can be used as a cosmetic solution for people born with from microtia. Microtia is a congenital birth defect that causes children to have an underdeveloped or malformed ear. In some cases, children have one unaffected ear, this can be scanned and biofabricated to create another ear. Failing this a parent or sibling’s ear can be scanned instead. The process involved scanning the patient’s ear using an iPad, and then using free computer software to develop a 3D model. This model was then 3D printed. An inverse mould of this model was developed and finally skin coloured, medical grade silicon was poured into the mould to form the prosthetic ear. Associate Professor Mia Woodruff said that the goal was to have these prosthetics ready for implantation at the end of next year. This is the first stage of Associate Professor Mia Woodruff’s Future Hear project, further stages involve creating a living ear and then bionics to help these children hear.

Overall, I really enjoyed the experience, getting to be part of a project that will change research in the health field and many people’s lives. I enjoyed working with other likeminded students as well as the academics, and thank Associate Professor Mia Woodruff and her team for putting together an amazing project and working with us for the week. I also would like to thank Science Curriculum Leader, Ms Guthrie for her support in helping me apply for and attend this program. Without her I would not have had this amazing opportunity. I would encourage other students to apply for this program as it is an amazing experience.

We're so glad to read such a fantastic review of the week from Bethany and we're so thankful for her enthusiasm and engagement with our project.