Leading a new generation with electronics



One year ago, I was frustrated with the state of our relationship with technology and decided to do something about it. Through my role in teaching new digital fabrication technologies, I hear all kinds of excuses why learning [insert tech skill] is too hard. It’s easy to fall into a habit of thinking that you might not be smart enough after a negative experience. Based in Queensland, Australia, my career is teaching 3D printing and software skills in a Makerspace. I’ve heard them all – “My husband does this for me”, “No, it’s too hard”. Generally, it comes back down to a Fixed Mindset vs. a Growth Mindset. While I thought that I was above this attitude, I realised that despite my love of electronics projects, I hadn’t yet pushed myself further to learn more technical skills. I thought I might get there one day, but deep down, I didn’t think I had what it took.


On the evening of the Toowoomba Women’s Startup Weekend Competition, I challenged myself to try. I pitched the idea of ‘electronics for young girls’ and formed a team. After winning the local round of the competition, we progressed to the Asia-Pacific finals in Bali. Pitching again against teams from China, Japan, Brunei, Malaysia and more, we took home the international trophy and Andrea and I decided to make Elkei Education a reality.



Building an Electronics Company


Since then, with the power of deadlines and a great project, I’ve surprised myself how much I’ve learnt and built over the last 12 months. Currently, electronics has a reputation of being a tedious subject ruled by boring green boards and strange symbols to decode. We’re creating beautiful, artisan circuit boards and soldering kits to kindle a love for making things glow and spin. Each kit comes with easy to understand instructions and after assembly, the finished product looks great worn or on display. At Elkei Education, we aim to inspire 500,000 young girls to be more confident about learning tech subjects by laying the foundations with our electronic craft kits.


Why aren’t there women in STEM Careers?


The Australian Women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) decadal plan explains why there is a lack of women in STEM and what needs to change. The leaky pipeline effect is especially critical for young women – If they aren’t engaged or excited by 15 years of age, they will lose interest in STEM. In Primary and High school, students need positive stereotypes, lack of bias, role models, good understanding of career options, STEM education and positive family/cultural expectations to consider a STEM career as a viable option.


If we want our next generation of young girls to have the freedom to choose some of the most challenging and rewarding careers out there, we need to set them up for success. Role models are critical in this, “You can’t be what you can’t see”. If you consider yourself as a role model for young girls like I do, the change needs to start with us. It’s time for us to challenge ourselves to become more. I’ve realised that with the power of Youtube tutorial marathons, many skills can be learnt.


Ask yourself, ‘what are you holding yourself back from?’ You are more tenacious, smart and ready than you realise.


If you’d like to check out our latest kits and resources, visit www.elkei.com.au and our Facebook page for the latest news.


By Steph Piper



About the Author



Steph Piper is the Community Engagement Coordinator at USQ, looking after the library Makerspace. She is also co-founder of Elkei Education, introducing electronics skills and positive role models to young girls. With a background in biofabrication, Steph also teaches classes in 3D printing, Arduino and Hardware development. For more info, see www.piper3dp.com











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