ME Program Delivers $185,000 in STEM Education Grants to Hunter Schools

To help improve STEM skills in the Hunter, 54 Hunter schools will receive a ME Program Grant to implement science, technology, engineering and maths activities in 2017 while more than 100 schools state-wide are implementing the ME Program’s iSTEM course

Following an expression of interest process, RDA Hunter’s ME Program this week awarded schools in the Hunter funding to implement hands-on activities that will encourage students to deepen their STEM skills.

Activities including iSTEM, StarLAB Mars Rover Kits, STEM Reactor Biotechnology Kits, iSTEM, ME3D Printers that require students to participate in problem and project based learning and compete in national challenges, are being funded by RDA Hunter’s ME Program as part of the 2017 ME Program STEM Grant Program.
“We had a record number of schools apply this year and across the Hunter there are now 54 schools that we are directly supporting and over 100 schools outside the Hunter who are implementing iSTEM,” said Dr Scott Sleap, Director of RDA Hunter’s ME Program.

“In this round of funding $185,000 in grants and equipment will be distributed to 54 schools, up from 47 at the start of 2016 and, 24 in 2014-2015. In total $370,000 will have been allocated to local schools in direct grants and equipment in the past 12 months. Since 2010 over $4.2 Million has been invested through our Schools/Industry partnerships.”

“We are also very pleased with the success of iSTEM which will be taught in over 130 schools in 2017. iSTEM is our state-of-the-art stage 5 school subject that embeds mechatronics, aerodynamics, engineering, 3D CAD/CAM and motion modules to contextualise learning for students and teachers. It presents maths and sciences to students in a hands-on and interesting way.” continued Dr Sleap.

“The ME Program has revolutionised the way STEM subjects are taught in participating high schools, significantly improved participation rates at senior school level and generated partnerships
between schools and industry.” said Todd Williams CEO RDA Hunter.

"We are delighted that our ME Program is contributing to a change in the landscape of education and industry in Australia. iSTEM is nationally significant. Its impact in skilling students for their future in a technologically advanced economy can't be underestimated." continued Mr Williams.

The ME Program marries the needs of industry with the education system by contextualising curriculum, providing niche professional work placement, incorporating cutting edge technology and implementing problem based learning principles to produce skilled and motivated graduates - and the results have been outstanding.


• ME Program acknowledged as an exemplar in the National Science and Innovation Agenda (NISA). It was specifically recognised for ‘linking industry needs with schools and tertiary institutions leading to increased STEM participation’
• ME Program’s STEM skilling program recognised as a key contributor to a skilled and adaptable regional workforce in RDA Hunter’s Smart Specialisation Strategy launched by Prime Minister Turnbull in March 2016
• The ME Program established New South Wales first Aerospace High School in Raymond Terrace after lobbying both Federal and State Education Departments
• ME Program included in the first National STEM index published the Office of Chief Scientist in early 2016
• RDA Hunter’s ME Program, in association with NSW Department of Industry (Training NSW) and Hunter TAFE developed an Australian first qualification that provides a job-readiness pathway by equipping students with STEM as well as non-technical skills and career opportunities
• ME Program partner school, Hunter River High, named as one of only 14 national P-TECH High Schools as a result of successful lobbying of the Federal Government by RDA Hunter
• 115 schools across NSW endorsed to run the ME Programs iSTEM curriculum in 2017
• ME Program asked to consult with Scotch College in Western Australia, Aurora College NSW and the Queensland Department of Education in the development of integrated STEM programs
• ME Program making strides in gender equity in STEM with 11% of ME Program iSTEM schools across NSW being all girls schools
• RDA Hunter’s ME Program invited to be on the BOSTES NSW stem advisory committee and to produce iSTEM units for the upcoming stage 6 Science curriculum.

• 54% increase in schools directly involved in the ME program, making a total of 42 schools locally
• 33% increase in ME Program Industry Partners including a number of major multinational companies including GE, PwC, Boeing Defence, BAE Systems and Thales.
• STEM Enrolment Trends in ME Program Partner Schools across the Region

• Biology enrolments in Year 11 up by 11%
• Chemistry enrolments in Year 11 up by 26%
• Engineering Studies enrolments in Year 11 up by 18%
• Mathematics Ext 1 enrolments up by 16%
• Physics enrolments up by 12%
• Software Design and Development enrolments up by 36%
• 20% overall increase in selected STEM subject for ME Program schools
• STEM subject selection at St Phillips Christian College up by 66% and at Maitland Grossmann 59%
• Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics Ext 1, Engineering Studies and Software Design and Development subject selection trending up against downward NSW state trends.
• When funding was for the ME Program was interrupted in 2015 there was a 26% drop in student enrolments in identified STEM subjects, upon re-establishment of the program enrolments jumped by 31%