In summary

  • STEMM students are learning to become better communicators through Swinburne’s Start Talking competition

  • From solving global hunger to creating more sustainable pet food, students are pitching to tackle global challenges

  • Students participated in extracurricular workshops to develop public speaking and networking skills

Students designing sustainable global change have won the fifth annual Swinburne Start Talking competition. 

This year the competition went international, inviting all Swinburne students from Australia and Malaysia to participate in the annual competition. 

‘Grubs up!’ won Liew Yung Ting the Judges Choice award. Curious about how her family and pet’s food consumption habits impact the environment, Liew decided to investigate the vital role that each person plays in creating a better world. “I really wanted to express a non-mainstream topic that was relatable but overlooked,” she said.  

“Our pets consume about 20 per cent of our global supply of meat and fish. Breeding and processing of these livestock requires large amounts of land, water, and feed, all of which contribute to the release of large amounts of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere.” 

Her project highlighted how the increasing interest in eating insects in European countries could be adopted as a more sustainable and nutritionally beneficial option. 

“The global pet owner community should know that pet food has the potential to be sustainably produced with alternative ingredients such as insects which are more climate friendly,” she said. 

The People’s Choice winner was Bahja Abdellatif Mahmoud Abdellatif, for her presentation ‘Harvesting Hope Through GM Crops’. 

Her mission was to educate the public on how Genetically Modified Organisms and Genetically Modified Crops could offer a solution to global hunger. 

“They are more cost-effective, highly nutritious, and resilient to environmental challenges such as heat and drought, allowing them to thrive in the face of climate change,” she said. “Their safety is backed by scientific evidence; GM crops are totally safe!” 

Communicating innovative ideas with impact 

As part of the competition, students participated in extracurricular workshops to develop public speaking and networking skills.  

The students then presented a four-minute pitch of a STEMM idea with social impact to a judging panel of industry, local government and community representatives. 

Lecturer in Microbial Biotechnology, Work Integrated Learning (WIL) and Leader of Swinburne’s Shaping STEMM Futures program Dr Bita Zaferanloo says her vision is to make the world a better place to live. 

Dr Zaferanloo says getting students to play, think and act as global citizens who initiate change creates lifelong learners who are future ready graduates. 

“Communicating about sustainability is vital for raising awareness and inspiring global action to address urgent environmental challenges,” she said. 

“Liew's presentation, noted for its comprehensive content and evidence, aligns with our vision of fostering global knowledge sharing to address challenges. Bahja's compelling storytelling and expert engagement exemplify effective communication, vital for advocating sustainability. Both projects highlight the importance of sharing knowledge, making them exceptional among the entries.” 

Harvesting Hope Through GM Crops

Engaging in global conversations for positive change  

Liew says engaging in Work-Integrated Learning enhanced hert communication, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. 

“The professional networking has made me competitive in the job market. This program empowered me to reflect and practice as a STEM communicator, preparing me for a connected and innovative world.” 

Bahja’s encourages all students to engage in conversations about global issues.  

“We need to show the world how science can be a catalyst for positive change. Never shy away from speaking up; become the voice for those who don't have a voice.” 

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