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Tech know-how vital for Pacific youth

Tuesday 14 June 2016 | Published in Regional

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NEW ZEALAND – Providing pathways to better opportunities for Pacific youth, through the use of technology, was a key message at the Pacific Wave 2016 Prosperous Futures Through Technology conference in Auckland.

Hosted annually by the Pacific Cooperation Foundation, this year’s event was held at Aotea Square where guests spoke about the importance of Pacific youth playing an innovative

role in technology.

A keynote speaker was Dr Michelle Dickinson, director of science and technology organisation and a senior University of Auckland lecturer.

Dr Dickinson, who describes herself as a “passionate engineer who wants to make a difference in the world”, stressed the importance of having diversity in science and engineering industries.

“We need to talk more openly about having more female and especially Pacific and Maori students in this industry,” Dr Dickinson said.

“Diversity in science and engineering is really important because what we do is solve problems. The best way to solve problems is to have teams and if you have a team of people that are just like you and think like you, you probably are not going to problem solve as well as if you had a diverse team.”

Diverse teams ensured people were coming with different experiences and backgrounds, which helped create the best science solution or engi-neering product, she said.

Also a co-founder of OMG Tech!, a programme that is focused on the state of the art technology and allows children in primary and intermediate schools across the nation to take part in workshops, learning aspects of 3D printing, coding and building robots.

Passionate about her cause, Dr Dickinson said she did not run a workshop unless the class was 50 per cent female and 50 per cent low decile Maori and Pasifika students.

“Because I want to create a technical space of education where the minority become the majority,” she said.

- Pacific Media Watch