Real World Futures

Collaboration key to work in the future

Date: 28 September 2016

What happens when you put 160 Year 11 science students in the same room as some of the best science brains and let them ask what they like?

Well, pretty much anything.

The students at the QUT Vice-Chancellor’s STEM Camp wanted to know everything from course selection to the limits on artificial intelligence when given the chance this week.

The session, The Next Ten Years, was a Real World Futures event, attended by a selection of Queensland business leaders, as well as the students and some QUT academics.

Set speakers were Queensland’s Chief Scientist, Dr Geoff Garrett AO, the Chief Technologist for Innovation in HP Enterprise, Asia-Pacific and Japan, Mr Roger Lawrence, QUT’s Associate Professor Mia Woodruff and young entrepreneur Taj Pabari.

But the stars were the students and their curious intelligence.

Dr Garrett advised them not to give up on their curiosity but also underlined two keys to success in a future which will be guided more by digital technology, robotics, artificial intelligence and augmented reality.

They are  the need for collaboration, a skill he encouraged the students to develop.And the willingness to work across boundaries

Their collaboration is at work this week in the STEM Camp where the students are assigned to teams to solve scientific problems. One of the teams is working with Dr Woodruff on her project to develop an economical means to 3D print ears for children born without them. It is a subset of her work on 3D printing of body parts which, ultimately, will contain human cells.

Mr Lawrence’s presentation gave a taste of life in 2026 when every human interaction would be assisted by an artificially intelligent chatbot. Food and clothing could be 3D printed to taste and any travel would be in automated pods – all technologies that now exist and are possible over the next decade.

Taj Pabari, the same age as many of the students, explained his project to create handbuilt tablets, increasing their availability and teaching their owners how the technology works.

Dr Garrett drew on international work (the Future of Jobs Report by the World Economic Forum) to describe the top 10 skills that will be needed in 2020.

They are:

  1. Complex problem solving;
  2. Critical thinking;
  3. Creativity;
  4. People management;
  5. Co-ordinating with others;
  6. Emotional intelligence;
  7. Judgement and decision making;
  8. Service orientation;
  9. Negotiation;
  10. Cognitive flexibility.

The students had questions both more basic and more complex, like:

. What courses did Mia study to lead a collaborative research group? (A: materials engineering.)

. Did science fiction influence science? (A: Yes, Dr Garrett first got interested in science through Star Trek!)

. Is a world more influenced by robots and AI one we want to live in? (A: Mainly yes but with reservations about the risk of less human contact.)

. How can energy needs be satisfied? (A; According to Dr Garrett, nuclear is part of the solution which needs to be on the table.)

. What does business look for in future employees? (A: Commerce Queensland’s Kate Whittle told the students future employers looked for students with a mix of skills and entrepreneurial spirit.)

And their overall view of the future?

A time for optimism and excitement despite the challenges.


_ David Fagan, Director Corporate Transition

Content sourced from QUT News Web Service.


Real World Futures