A global conglomerate is boosting STEM in schools with an innovative partnership with the CSIRO.

Major electronics systems company Thales has signed a three-year agreement with Australia’s leading research body to advance scientific thinking in both primary and secondary schools.

Thales will support two programs -- Creativity in Engineering, Science and Technology (CREST) and Scientists and Mathematicians in Schools (SMiS) – in schools throughout Australia.

CREST is a non-competitive awards program that encourages scientific thinking and effective communication through open-ended science investigation or technology projects. It currently has almost 2000 active partnerships between STEM professionals and teachers in schools, and has been running for more than 20 years.

As part of the participation in the program Thales personnel will work with students carrying out these projects.

Thales and CSIRO will also look to expand the CREST program into digital careers (including coding) not currently encapsulated within the traditional CREST framework.

SMiS promotes the importance of STEM by creating partnerships between STEM professionals and teachers. There are currently more than 300 organisations contributing STEM professionals to the program which has been running for 10 years. Technical specialists from Thales will be given the opportunity to work with teachers to bring real-world experience to students in the classroom.

“Australia’s future prosperity is dependent on developing the right skills at a young age,” said Thales Australia CEO Chris Jenkins. “Our country requires a sound base of technical and scientific knowledge, and programs such as these, help to build it.”

According to CSIRO CEO Dr Larry Marshall, close collaboration between industry professionals and young innovators helps encourage STEM careers as a pathway.

“Seeing the importance of science in a successful company likes Thales makes STEM real for students and inspires them to tackle tomorrow’s challenges with confidence and enthusiasm, which is vital for Australia to become an innovative leader,” he said.

A Thales Australia spokesperson said a pilot program between the CSIRO and Thales will launch in the second quarter this year, with full rollout expected by September.